Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘acountability’ Category

I say, “Obama,” you think _____________.

I say, “Trump,” you think _____________.

Chances are high, depending on your political persuasion, you’ve badmouthed one or the other, that you love one and despise the other, that you have respect for one while feeling at liberty to disrespect the other.

I say, “Taxes,” you think ____________.

I say, “You owe,” you think ____________.

Chances are high you have an opinion on taxes, and, living in the United States, chances are equally high that you are very familiar with owing, with indebtedness.

Romans 13:1-10 concerns itself with Christians living in the larger society, within the constructs of government, their surrounding culture, the country they live in. God, through the Apostle Paul, reminds us to  “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed” Romans 13:7 (ESV). Do your responses above reflect the spirit and demeanor of the Romans 13 passage? Are your conversations, tweets, and posts in compliance with the word of God, or do they reflect the culture at large or the subgroup you affiliate with? Do you have an honor and respect debt?

Even after you’ve paid all your bills, paid off your mortgage, and are square on your taxes you owe, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law” Romans 13:8 (ESV), not according to some law passed by the legislature, but according to God’s law, “For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” Romans 13:1-10 (ESV).

Why do you and I owe love daily? Because we owe our very existence to God’s love and are daily recipients of his mercy and grace, “To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously. Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that. I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind” Luke 6:27-36 (MSG).

God has a vision for this world we live in, the countries we love, the communities we live in, and the lives we live (Read the Ten Commandments – Exodus 20:1-17, and the Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 5-7). And, he expects the followers of Jesus to live out that vision right now, not in some distant future. He wants us to embrace the highest law now, not when things are hunky-dory, but amid ugly politics, chaos, violence, injustice, opposition, stress, worry, and even evil.

Heavenly Father forgive me when my standards do not reflect yours, when I excuse myself from the supreme law, when I declare myself indebted to no one, when my daily life is without heavenly vision. Please me the courage, the tenacity, and humility to pay all I owe, especially my love debt. Amen

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

We all have them and we are all on them – people lists. Our genealogy/family list, friend list, favorite people list, not my favorite people list, enemy list, contact list, … You can find them in the Bible as well, and, the last one listed is the most important of them all, “The Lamb’s (Jesus Christ’s, God’s) Book of Life” (Revelation 21:27, 20:12&15, parenthesis mine). Although many have tried and are still trying to write their name into this book, on that list, only Jesus can put your name there. If your name is not on that list, you remain on the list of death and hell. We have to be erased from the latter in order to be on the former, no one will be on both, and, only Christ can transfer you from one to other, from death to life, from certain judgment to complete forgiveness.

Are you in the “Lamb’s Book of Life?” Many have said, “Nobody can be certain that they are.” The Apostle John didn’t think so, he wrote, Whoever has the Son (Jesus) has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life” 1 John 5:12-13 (NLT2, parenthesis mine). You can’t be in God’s book of life without believing in and following Jesus,  “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” John 3:36 (ESV). That, of course, raises another objection, “So somebody can just profess belief in Jesus and live like hell, be a most selfish bugger, be downright evil and be in the book of life?” If that is your qualm or your reality, please, take a minute and read Revelation 20:11-15. You will notice that in God’s final judgment not only the “Lamb’s” list is reviewed but also the record of each one of our lives. Even though no one can be saved without completely relying on the saving mercy and grace of God in Christ, how we live matters, and everyone will be held accountable. Those who are on the “Lamb’s” list should live like it. I think that’s why the Apostle Paul exhorts us, “… work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” Philippians 2:12 (ESV), even when no one is looking.

Keeping the above in mind, our believing in and following Jesus should change and impact the people lists we are on. We should be moving off the pain in the butt, dishonest, cheap talk, lazy, immoral, unkind, unreliable, no good, miserable, foul-mouthed, prejudiced, stingy, self-absorbed, stuck-up, arrogant, undisciplined, heart and headache, hypocrite, … list, and be transferred to the blessing, integrity, godly, kind, generous, just, Christlike list. We should be on the list of those who hated Jesus for who he was and what he did and we should be on the list for all that Jesus stood for and was loved for. From the day Jesus saved you and me and transferred our names from the book of judgment and death into his book of life, we should be living in such way that our names are erased from all the wrong lists and be transferred to all the good and right lists. So, besides asking yourself if your name is in the “Lamb’s book of life,” ask yourself how your name appears on people’s lists? And, are you on the move on those lists? Everyone in Jesus’ book of life should be.

To God be all Glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

I am working on a car, again, the a/c (air-conditioning) is out. The car is drivable but on 104 (40 Celsius) or hotter days, Susie might want to make it to work without having to take another shower.

Our dishwasher rack is missing some prongs, but it is still washing dishes as well as it was when we bought it 25 years ago (Isn’t fun when God makes our things last?!).

Walking around our property I continually find vulture feathers, and sometimes when those magnificent flying creatures zoom low over our heads you can see where some of those feathers are missing, obviously, this does not rob them of their ability to fly. Of course, it would be a lot different if a vulture lost all its feathers at once, it would ground them for sure. The dishwasher and Susie’s car would be worthless if their water pumps gave out, or some other vital part failed.

It is no different with the Christian life, there are minor issues which might make things more uncomfortable, make things harder, or force you to make adjustments, and then there are major things that bring you to a screeching halt, keep you from soaring, and need immediate attention and repair. This is something the Corinthian Christians lost sight of; they were busy fixing the a/c when their engine had major problems. They argued and divided over minor things and forgot about the most important. As a result, they started looking and acting more and more ridiculous. Christians can employ the full Christian lingo and yet look like a vulture without feathers.

The Apostle Paul told the Corinthians that if they got things right their Faith, Hope, and Love would be in top mechanical condition, be the main feathers of their plumage, would leave their dishes sparkling. And of these three, he said, Love was the most indispensable. Without it the individual believer and the Christian community/church is broken, without substance, going nowhere, accomplishing nothing.

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends (fails)” 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 (ESV, parenthesis NASB).

So, now that you have read the scripture above, I want to challenge you to do a little exercise with me. Think through this passage with the heading:

If I don’t have love (the kind God wants you to have and practice)

How does that affect your life, the life of your church, and the lives of those around you? Here are the first four things I wrote down:

  • Without out love, I sound wrong, verse 1.
  • Without love, I think wrong (“I am nothing”), verse 2.
  • Without love, I go wrong (“I gain nothing”), verse 3.
  • Without love, I am not as patient as I can and should be, verse 4.

And Now you finish it up:

  • Without love,  __________________________________________________
  • Without love,  __________________________________________________
  • Without love,  __________________________________________________
  • Keep going! ….

Now ask yourself, “Who is at the brunt end of my lack of love?” This might be an individual, several people, or entire group or groups of people.

Finally, what is the first right loving action you need to initiate towards him, her, and/or them? ______________________________________________________ (It might include having to apologize and ask for forgiveness.)

Maybe you’re not feeling it. Maybe you think someone else needs to make the first move. If you are waiting on those two to change you might be waiting a long, too long of a time to become the loving person Christ wants you to be. Start fixing the most important things today.

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Psalm 127:3 (NASB)

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

No decent parent wants their child/ren to grow up and be a bum or brat, be lazy, dishonest, out of control, ungrateful, disrespectful, irresponsible, rotten, or foolish. Of course, if you leave character building up to chance or to your cute little offspring themselves you will exponentially increase their chances to be some or all of the above.

I had them, this year’s VBS 5-6th grade boys, set up a tent. They yanked it out of the box, opened the zippered bag and went to work, and like typical males didn’t bother to read the instructions, which, by the way, were sown to the zippered bag so there is no chance of losing them. Finally, one of them, Coty, realized it wasn’t going too well, so he sat down and read the instructions, and together with Swain’s leadership they actually managed to set the thing up. I was proud of them.

Why are we so reluctant to read and follow instructions? And why do babies come without any instructions? And why do those “gifts of God” have such a difficult time following instructions while they’re still in diapers and then only get worse at it?

God knows us all too well, that’s why his instructions to parents are clear: Don’t leave the raising of your kids to chance, to mere crisis management, current cultural trends, or somebody else. Don’t exasperate your kids with being absent, disengaged, inconsistent, and not having a plan. Instead, train and instruct them the way God wants you to train and instruct them. This, of course, requires that we as parents know God ourselves, are familiar with his ways, champion his values, live like he wants us to, love what he loves, and read and practice the manual, the instructions, the Bible.

It is possible to raise very decent kids with great values and leave God out of the picture. But it is impossible to raise godly, God-fearing kids and leave God out of the picture. So, if you are lucky/blessed with having one or more of those gifts from God called children, make sure that above all you raise them with God and his Son Jesus Christ in the center of everything, training them and instructing them in all that is important to God, and be the best example of all of that they will ever see. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10 (NIV)

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

P.S. To that end anchor yourself and your family in a local church. I actually know a good one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

It was looking forward to going fishing between the spillway of Union Lake and the inlet of Utica Lake. Everything looked perfect, the weather could not have been better, the scenery spectacular, my company, Susie, the best. And then, overnight, my night crawlers had all died. Next, I lost my favorite spinner. This was followed by the tip of my pole breaking. Finally, the coup de gras to my fishing adventure was delivered by a big red ant biting me where no man should be bitten. It might be a long while before I’ll try fishing again.

I hauled my severely humbled and dejected self back to where Susie was sitting on a rock. She was having a marvelous time taking pictures, and, because for some reason there was outstanding cell reception, she was sending them to her favorite people. In the background, I could hear all of the creatures of the forest snickering, and the osprey circling overhead was grinning from one end of its beak to the other. When I told Susie about my fishing disaster she, you guessed it, burst out laughing. She wasn’t about to join my pity-party. Good for her, I didn’t need pity, I needed perspective.

You can go fishing with self-pity, put that limp worm into enough spots, repeat your saga to enough people, and sooner or later someone will bite, feel really sorry for you, allow you, even if it is utterly trivial, to wallow in your misfortune. But you won’t be helped by it, you’ll get stuck in a twisted reality, you’ll continue to circle around yourself and miss the chance to change, to grow, to see the glorious, to laugh.

Self-pity has no grit, it speaks about ant bites like they’re shark bites. Jesus, encountering a man who had been lame for 38 years (certainly immeasurably more serious than sport fishing mishaps) asked him, “Do you wish to get well?” To which the lame man replied with a statement of self-pity and resignation (John 5:1-15). Jesus didn’t take the bait, instead, he told him, “Get up and walk.” The lame man had to make a decision, continue in his self-pity or trust what Jesus just told him. It is possible to drag around on the ground with two perfectly healthy legs.

Jeremiah the prophet was feeling sorry for himself. God answered him not quite how we would expect, he completely ignored Jeremiah’s dangling worm of self-pity, “If racing against mere men makes you tired, how will you race against horses? If you stumble and fall on open ground, what will you do in the thickets near the Jordan? Even your brothers, members of your own family, have turned against you. They plot and raise complaints against you. Do not trust them, no matter how pleasantly they speak” Jeremiah 12:5-6 (NLT2). Can you feel God’s empathy? Sounds more like, “Suck it up, it’ll get worse.” Obviously, God didn’t think pity was Jeremiah’s need for the moment, but he did need perspective.

Elijah the prophet went from an incredible victory and acts of faith to the depth of despair and wallowed in self-pity. “I am all alone,” he told himself and God twice. God’s response, “What are you doing here?” (2 Kings 19:1-18), “You are not alone, there are 7000 others faithful to me.” Never mind, that God and his angels were right there with him, providing, taking care of him.

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

“A wise child brings joy to a father; a foolish child brings grief to a mother.”

“The father of godly children has cause for joy. What a pleasure to have children who are wise. So give your father and mother joy! May she who gave you birth be happy.” Proverbs 10:1; 23:24-25 (NLT2)

 My Mama was the mother of five boys. She kept telling us that we were exactly what she wanted, what she’d prayed for. I think she meant it, but I wonder how often she thought, “What in the hesch have I gotten myself into?” Her sister, my second Mama/Aunt, stormed out of our house on more than one occasion, yelling, “This house is nothing but an insane asylum!”

I didn’t think about whether I was bringing joy or grief to her back when she was raising us, but I have done so often since I left home. The verdict is clear, I brought her way too much grief. While she made her life about us, I made my life about me, and in doing so I helped turn her hair gray, added to her wrinkles beyond time, caused her to weep and pray, who knows how often.

Mother’s Day, which was an up and coming kind of thing back then, was a cheap way of easing the conscience. Buy something nice, be nice for a day, go back to the same old the next day. Sounds like cheap religion, doesn’t it? And it is. She was gracious though, acting like she really needed more of the same perfume, although she still had three full bottles on her dresser. But there really isn’t any perfume that can cover the stink we cause in someone’s life, is there? And I, we, stunk up her life, caused her grief instead of being big bottles of joy.

Where we stunk, she was fragrant, where I embraced wrong she chose right, where I pursued sin, she practiced godliness, where I was short-sighted she held on to the long-view.  She didn’t go the cheap route but instead gave us what lasts, what you can’t order on Amazon, what will remain fragrant even when I stink it up. So now, today, the memory of my Mama is a joy to me, a still rushing stream of blessing, although she has been gone for thirty years.

I am still the son of Margarete Frei, the woman who gave birth to me, the Mama who raised me, and it still matters whether or not I conduct myself in ways that are wise, that are selfless, that are godly, that bring her joy, that glorify God and Christ.

“Honor your father and mother” Exodus 20:12, not just for a day but with your life. It is what both pleases God and is rewarded by God.

Happy Mother’s Day. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

Read Full Post »

Of all the times, it started Easter weekend, sewer problems. The first sign, a smelly wet-spot behind the house. Digging up said spot revealed a collapsed pipe, which means there will have to be a whole lot more digging before this problem is rectified.

I knew we had a septic system, but I never knew exactly where it was, I do now. It has communicated, visibly and olfactory, saying, “You have used me, but you have not appreciated me. I have served you, but you have neglected me. Quite frankly, I have put up with you stink for decades but the way you have treated me really stinks!”

We, humanity, have always had a waste problem, we still do, moreso than ever. Often, we don’t pay any attention to it until it starts talking to us in our back yard. When the septic pumper guy opened the lids to the septic tank, the stern talking turned to a nauseating scream. Wow! And, Ugh! Close the windows, quick. Whatever Jeremy is getting paid, it isn’t enough.

At least there is a solution to this septic issue, other waste is much tougher to deal with. Some waste takes decades to decompose, some centuries, and radioactive waste like plutonium 239 has a half-life of 24,000 years, I-29 has a half-life of over 15 million years. But the most toxic and long-lasting human waste is produced by our sin, not nuclear power plants. Sin has eternal consequences, even a single careless word (Matthew 12:36), one bite of forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:13).

It would be nice if we could simply drop our sins into the toilet and pull the handle to flush it all down. It would be nice if we could drop it off at the landfill on toxic waste days, even if we had to pay extra. There is no place to take it, there is no one to can take it and render it harmless, transform it into something pristine and see-worthy like Glass Beach.

Actually, there is a place and someone. The place: The cross of Christ. The person: Jesus Christ. Only there and by him can our sin be disposed of, detoxified, disarmed. Only there and through Jesus can we be washed clean of the stench and filth of our sin. Only there and through him can a sinner be transformed into a saint. Only there and through Jesus Christ can the power of sin be broken, and sinners find forgiveness and eternal life.

So, a broken septic system fits perfectly with Easter, when God in Christ addressed our greatest need, our filth, our sin and offers us a chance to be clean. Which makes ignoring Christ and his cross the greatest foolishness, the most consequential decision of them all.

“But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.” Isaiah 64:6 (NKJV)

 “God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT2)

“Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD (Jesus Christ) will be saved.” Romans 10:13 (NLT2, parenthesis mine)

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: