Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘learning’ Category

You know you can grow it, and the more you do the more you have to share, to give away.

If you have tried your hand at growing a vegetable garden you are probably familiar with both a radish and zucchini surplus. Somehow those two just love to grow faster than you can eat them. The problem is that people who love to do the vegetable garden thing usually hang out with other such people and collectively they have planted too much and thus sharing becomes a moot point. Next thing you know you see zucchinis the size of a weightlifter’s arm appear in large boxes in the foyer of the church with a desperate handwritten sign, “Free, take all you want,” but no return address.

We are meant to grow them: faith, hope, and love. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” 1 Corinthians 13:13 (ESV). For four reasons: 1. They are absolutely essential to being like Christ; 2. It is impossible to please God without them; 3. They make us strong; 4. They enable us, force us to set out our boxes of surplus, because they are a lot more valuable and needed than zucchini and radishes, and should never go to waste.

We are also meant to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ, in the midst of a godless, struggling, dark and often hostile world, But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” 2 Peter 3:18 (ESV). I am pretty sure we are meant to export that too.

Can you imagine your life, your (our) church, your (our) community, your (our) country with an overabundance of faith, hope, love, grace, and life in Christ? Daily packing a box full, considering ourselves to be the sign that reads, “Free, take all you need,” and then taking our overflowing box to where it is most needed, to where or to whom you might not want to go but the Holy Spirit compels you to go.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace, Christ seek engagement, want to flow like water, want to light up the dark, bind up the brokenhearted, comfort the weeping, feed the poor, heal the sick, liberate the captives, awaken justice, ennoble politics, replace hatred, battle evil, and save the lost.

So grow, grow, grow and go, go, go – in Jesus’ name.

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Susie and I started our life together like many others with basically nothing in regard to money and possessions. Married halfway through college our major goal was to finish college without being in debt. So after two years of marriage all we owned fit into our tiny Datsun F-10 alongside our baby son and lone piece of furniture, a rocking chair.

Things didn’t get any better financially the next few years. I ended up out of work and we were poor, really poor. When I finally got a job it was minimum wage. I don’t know how Susie managed to feed us the way she did. And somehow, by God’s goodness, we paid our bills.

Well that baby who traveled with us in the Datsun F-10 turned out to be a very smart little fellow. Turns out he has like an almost photographic memory, which meant he beat me at Memory at age three, right after he figured out that for the past six months Daddy only won by following his eyes. When he started looking in other directions I was toast.

That little rascal wasn’t just good at Memory, he was also good at money, saving it, managing it, keeping track of it. I don’t remember exactly when it started, but I remember why. I needed some money for gas and we lived an hour from or bank, and we really didn’t have anything in the bank. In my need I borrowed from the smart little fellow. He was more than willing, but I think he already had memorized Proverbs 22:7, The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave” (NASB). So now he could not only beat me in Memory but he could also call in my loan. “Hey Daddy, you might really want think about that spanking because your current balance is minus $30.00.” Good thing he was not the kind of conniving kid his Daddy was as a kid.

Once, as I was trying to settle my current account with him (I think he was twelve by then) we disagreed on the figure. I could have sworn I had made a previous payment, but whose memory was more reliable? Whose figures did we eventually go by? You probably guessed it.

That little guy is now a grown man with his own family. I so hope his sons will have photographic memories and whoop their Daddy’s behind in memory and who knows what. But they won’t end up loaning him money because he is still good at managing it, saving it, keeping track of it, and even more importantly, being generous with it.

It is much easier to be generous when you are not in debt. That little “loan shark” of ours figured that out too. He delighted in figuring out his tithe (10% you honor God with) of whatever money he was blessed with. He loved buying his sisters treats. He enjoyed giving extravagant gifts. That’s much easier to do when you are in the black and not in the red. In the red the first obligation is to the one you owe, and depending on how much you owe there might not be anything left to be generous with. It is tough to experience “It is more blessed to give than to receive” Acts 20:35 (NASB), when you are in debt.

One more thing, it is amazing what can happen to us financially and materially when four things come together: 1. Working hard, 2. Managing well, 3. Honoring God, and 4. Generosity.

“I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive” Acts 20:35 (NLT).

 “Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce” Proverbs 3:9 (NLT).

 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip. The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more …” Matthew 25:14-16 (NLT).

 “… God loves a cheerful giver” 2 Corinthians 9:7 (ESV).

Wouldn’t it be great if we’d figure all of this out before the age of five? But even if we didn’t, today would be a great day to start.

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

P.S. If you live in or around Don Pedro and you wonder how to make a start on the above why not sign up for an upcoming Biblical Financial Seminar in the month of May. Contact the church office ldpbaptistchurch@gmail.com, (209) 852-2040. If you do not live around here check out http://www.daveramsey.com/fpu/ or http://www.crown.org/ .

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

 “…  And I will show you an even better way.” 1 Corinthians 12:31 (HCSB)

Take a moment and complete the following, “I would love to be better at ______________________________________________________________________

I would love to be able to play my guitar as well as my guitar teacher. He told me about going to a Tommy Emanuel (one of the world’s finest acoustic guitar players) concert and was completely blown away by some of the things he saw and heard. He went home inspired to become even better.

I am reading a book on preaching and how I would love to be a much better and effective communicator of God’s word.

I have loved being a dad, and of course I will be a dad the rest of my life, I would love to still get better at it.

I love being a grandpa/Opa, and since my oldest grandson isn’t even two yet I don’t have a lot experience and knowhow in the Opa-thing, but oh how would love to get better and better at it.

I have been married to this super cute girl for over 35 years, and I am far (sometimes very, very far) from having this marriage thing figured out, but I would so love to be better at it.

I have been a Christian, a believer in and follower of Jesus Christ since I was 17 years old. I wouldn’t trade my life and experiences with Christ for anything, but how I would love to be more like him.

I have read, studied, and taught the Bible throughout my Christian life to the point I know it better than many, but would love to understand it better, remember more of it, and be better at applying it to my own life.

There are so many more things I would love to better at, but if had to pick just one it would be LOVE. I wish our whole world would be better at LOVE. Wherever there is more love things are better. All of God’s commands are summarized by: Love God with all you got, love you neighbor as yourself, and love each other like Jesus loves you. Can you imagine the impact if we’d all excel at love above anything else? I think it would be fantastic, God and Christ certainly think so.

I already bought some Valentines chocolates, sometimes love is easy like that, sometimes it is just plain hard, but no matter what I want to better at it.

Hopefully you’ll join me. Pastor Hans

“If I … do not have love, I am nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:2 (HCSB)

 “Love never fails (ends)…” 1 Corinthians 13:8 (NASB, parenthesis mine)

 

Read Full Post »

Then they set out from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the people became impatient because of the journey. The people spoke against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.” Numbers 21:4-5 (NASB)

The new car smell was long gone and there was nothing fundamentally wrong with the car, it was in good shape, dependable, and most importantly – it was paid for. But he couldn’t count those blessings, all he could see was the miles on the odometer, the stains on the seats, the few scratches here and there, and all that it was missing compared to a new car. So finally he even convinced his wife with all his car negativity, surely a new car would bring relief and happiness. In fact it brought more stress, the payments and increased costs stretched the budget to the “constant worry” level. It didn’t take long for the negativity to return.

“What were you thinking? Why did I ever go along with that? I loved the old car!” the wife accused.

“Oh now it’s all my fault! I seem to remember you signing the papers too!” he snarled back, before storming out.

The liberation of the ancient Israelites had slowed to an agonizing taxing crawl. They found themselves on another detour, this time a long march around the kingdom of Edom, which wouldn’t allow them to use the Kings Highway. It didn’t take long for their inclination towards pessimism to resurface. In their grumbling against and accusation of God and Moses they did what negative, complaining pessimist do – twist the facts.

The facts were they had not died, they had not starved, nor had they run out of water. There was fresh food every morning and God had just supplied enough water from a rock for every person and all of their livestock. The truth was that they were on this detour because of their own dumb and faithless choices. They already would have been where God wanted them to be if they had trusted God more than their fears, if they had surrendered to God instead of their constant negativity, foolishness, and sinful ways.

Lying to themselves was not enough. The clincher was their utter ungratefulness, “We loathe, despise, detest this miserable food.” What should have been a daily source of thanksgiving and praise was turned into a spoiled complaint and self-indictment. There was nothing wrong with the food, nor with God and Moses, their faithfulness, their goodness, and their patience was impeccable.

Too many stall out with God, in following Jesus Christ. Not because there is anything wrong with God and Christ or because preachers are telling lies and mislead, but because somewhere along the journey of spiritual liberation in Christ there is a failure of faith followed by a twisting of the facts expressed in negativity and thanklessness. The Christian life, a life with God, is not just a quick moment of faith resulting in liberation from sin; it is also a lifelong devotion to faith on the journey. “So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. ‘For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.’ But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved” Hebrews 10:35-39 (NLT). This is what the generation Moses led out of Egypt never learned. May you and I learn and be different.

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

I didn’t learn everything I ever needed to know in Kindergarten. I did start ditching though and I learned about bullying. I didn’t learn everything in first and second grade either, but I did learn to read and that there are some terrific teachers. I didn’t learn everything in grades three and four but I learned to both fear and respect Herr Weiermueller, aka Kaiser Red Beard, who was tough as nails and cared at the same time. After 4th grade things seemed to spiral downward and it seems that if I had learned everything in Kindergarten then grades five through 10 would not have been such a struggle, but if you would have asked me back then I would’ve claimed to know pretty much everything and that my teachers, parents, and everyone who disagreed knew nothing (but there really were some dinkeldorfers among them). I learned a lot during my year as an exchange student but a far cry from everything I ever needed to know. College, graduate school, seminary taught me a lot, including stuff I never wanted to learn but someone thought I should.

Besides all of this formal education, like you, I was enrolled in the school of life from the day the midwife spanked my behind which caused me to cry out, “Present!” However the school of life doesn’t teach everything either. It lets you make the same dumb mistake over and over, you don’t have to advance if you don’t want to, it might even turn you into a twisted, tortured, scared, and scarred soul. But I have enjoyed some of its courses tremendously, like being a husband, Dad, brother, friend, or hard work, helping, and enjoying good.

Somewhere along the path of my life I learned to love learning. My parents played a part in that, as did my aunt, a number of teachers and professors played that role as well, as did my wife and my children. And there have been so many whose knowledge and skills I admired, and often needed, who were willing to take the time and effort to teach me simply for the asking. I learned that even though I might not be the brightest or most skilled, I could learn. What a tremendous gift.

I almost missed learning what is most important, not because it was unavailable to me. There were two churches in my hometown, there were Bibles (God’s written word) in our home, we had “religion” as a subject in school, some of my relatives talked about it, but I wasn’t interested, I was distracted, I didn’t see much value in it. I did not understand the importance of knowing about God and Jesus Christ. Lots of people seem to live just fine without ever thinking about God, which is the exact opposite of what God thinks, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1). How important is it to know where we have come from? Where we are going? Who we are accountable to? What we are responsible for? What we cannot afford to ignore? Who has ultimate power? And who values and loves us more than anyone? We are stuck in our sin and the dysfunctional cycles of human history when we are disconnected from God. We are spiritually and eternally lost outside a relationship with God. We are poorer without him. We lack any true and lasting foundation for life, hope, and justice without him. It is possible to amass vast learning and miss what is most important. It is through God’s written word, the Bible I learned:

“Start with GOD—the first step in learning is bowing down to GOD; only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning.” Proverbs 1:7 (MSG)

“All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Him (Jesus Christ).” Colossians 2:3 (HCSB, parenthesis mine)

“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.” John 3:16 (NASB)

To God be all glory; love you, Pastor Hans (a fellow learner)

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

“… learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” Matthew 11:29 (NIV)

Remember Alice Cooper singing “School’s Out?” Maybe you couldn’t wait for it to become true. Maybe you sang it at your graduation.

“… No more pencils
No more books
No more teacher’s dirty looks

Well we got no class
And we got no principles
And we got no innocence
We can’t even think of a word that rhymes

School’s out for summer
School’s out forever
School’s been blown to pieces …” (Lyrics by Alice Cooper)

I remember a young lady for whom Math was a nightmare. It kept her from finishing her college degree. She had almost straight As except for math, she had flunked it numerous times. Talk about frustrated.

Did you ever ask a teacher or your parents, “Why do I have to learn this? How much of this am I actually ever gonna use in real life?”

The reality is that throughout all of life you have to learn unless you want to be stupid, make stupid decisions, repeat stupidity, and suffer from the effects of stupidity. Learning can make your life better, make you wiser, make things easier.

If I make the same mistakes over and over maybe it’s time to learn to do it different?

If my life is full of turmoil, drama, and conflict maybe it’s time to examine what I have learned and how valuable it is. Maybe I need to show up for school again, regardless of how much I like Alice’s sentiments.

If my relationships are not working, if I am always broke, if habits are hurting me, if I constantly hurt others, if lack discernment then maybe it is time to admit that I don’t know as much as I think I do and that I might need to depart from what I have learned so far.

If others are not blessed by me, if love, goodness, generosity, wholeness, wisdom, joy, laughter, and peace isn’t something that others get from being with me then maybe enrolling with the best teacher ever isn’t a bad idea.

As far as I know Jesus never taught a course on physics, math, biology, or chemistry, although as the creator of them all he certainly could have. No, he left that type of teaching to others. What Jesus focused his teaching on was on life, on God, on reality, on true success. You can know everything about math and be a terrible person. You can be the most skilled surgeon and be a heartache to your colleagues and family. You can be the savviest business woman and be dishonest and corrupt. You can be the best at football and be a jerk.

“Learn from me,” maybe it’s time to take Jesus up on the offer. From what I have heard, even Alice Cooper did.

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: