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Archive for the ‘patience’ Category

The Old Travel Trailer

I had no idea a little camper trailer could be this much work! The good news is that it was free; initially that is, it was given to us. Although by now I have to confess wondering a few times about the motive for this gift.

Initially Susie and I were just going to fix a “little” water damage at the right front corner. That little water damage turned out to be a completely rotted front and back as well as half a side wall. All the skin had to come off, and about half of trailer had to be disassembled and be rebuilt. As of this writing, the frame and skin are back together, but it is far from done.

This 65 Aristocrat Lo-Liner has morphed from free into a significant investment of money, time and sweat, especially time and seat, lot’s of sweaty time indeed. If it ever gets back on the road again it will be a major accomplishment and celebration for us amateur fixer-uppers.

We also have some new problems and dilemmas because by now we are invested, emotionally attached. That’s what happens when you decide to take on a challenge, pour your heart into it, do research, learn new skills, plunk down money, allocate time, sweat a lot, and give yourself cuts and bruises. There is also the point of no return, which was early on, when we still had the option to just let the thing roll down the backside our property and watch it crash at the bottom of the gulley. Too late for that, somewhere along the line we became committed, were all in, had a vision of the end result, and had our pride kick in, “That piece of Canned Ham trailer is not going to whop us!”

Old trailers like the Aristocrat like to talk, sometimes more than you want them to. There are the stories of when it was new, when it was used a lot, when it was filled with life and laughter. There are the stories when it sat empty, when it was forgotten, when it was reduced to an occasional hangout, when it was replaced with a newer bigger model, when it became expendable, when it got old and the rot started to set in. It likes to talk about simpler times, of camping without Satellite TV, microwaves, porcelain toilets, in trailers that transform into mansions on wheels. And it is good at throwing out questions, “Am I worth all this time and effort?” “Are there not more important things you should be doing?” Are you as passionate and dedicated to building God’s kingdom as you are about fixing me?”

“Darn old trailer, sometimes I wish it would just stay quiet.”

Susie and I lived in an old trailer much like this one when we were first married; maybe that’s why we have soft spot for it. Maybe it represents our yearning for simplicity in the midst of life that is continually filling up to the max. Maybe it is an answer to our prayers for contentment, to spend hundreds instead of thousands, to resist the ever thirsty urge for bigger, newer, better, and instead find joy in what God gives us.

Let your conduct (character) be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 (NKJV, parenthesis mine)

            To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

 

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Salvation without transformation is misinformation that results in damnation.

If your house has termites how many of them do want to be gone, for how many do you pay the exterminator to get rid off? How much of the termite damage do you want your contractor to fix? I imagine your answers were, “All of the termites and all of the damage.”

If you were to get sprayed by a skunk (and I have), how much of that foul smell does your spouse want you to wash off before coming to bed? I imagine your answer would be, “All of it, and make sure you put on a hefty dose of cologne.”

How much of our sin, our depravity, our moral and spiritual rot and filth do you think God’s grace is trying to address? How deep do you think the grace of God is trying to sink into our hearts and lives? How much does God’s grace want to change in us and about us? The answers to these questions are, “All of it, to my very core, and more than I imagine.”

The grace of God aims to be transforming. There is no way to drink from the cup of God’s grace and be unchanged. If you remain unchanged you haven’t swallowed. As James puts it, “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:17), meaning: you can’t believe in the love, grace, and mercy of God (salvation) and live unchanged.” If the love of Christ has touched us it compels us to love. If our sins are forgiven we should be forgiving. If we have received mercy it should make us merciful. If the joy of God and his salvation has filled us we should be joyful and positive. If the goodness of God is real it should cause us to desire to do good. If the peace of God keeps our hearts and minds we should pursue peace. If we have benefited from the patience of God we should be patient with others. If the selflessness, the obedience, the faithfulness, the kindness, and humility of Jesus has in any way worked in our favor then we ought to embrace the same.

Somehow we are very comfortable with saving grace, who doesn’t want to go heaven? We love the everyday grace of God, the grace that makes the sun rise, the rains fall, puts bread on our tables, and gives us opportunities in life (Matthew 5:45). We don’t complain about delivering grace, healing grace, God-helping-me out grace, that would be foolish. But how quickly we begin to resist transforming grace, when God wants to replace more than a few roof shingles, when he starts scraping off old paint, lays bare the rot, starts messing with our values, our outlooks, our attitudes, the way we react and interact, and puts our motives, our pursuits, and lifestyles on the table.

After following Jesus for almost forty years I still find surrendering to God’s transforming grace most challenging. I am amazed and ashamed how resistant I can be, how many self-deceptive excuses I can conjure up, how quickly I can deflect, and how disobedient I can be. I pray to be like the Apostle Paul, after having an opportunity to tell king Agrippa of his conversion, of the time when the saving grace of Christ met him, quickly added, “So … I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision” (Acts 26:19 NASB). What a statement of surrender to transforming grace.

When it comes to transforming grace we face a triple threat:

  • All of our old scripts, the defaults of our sinful self. O how good they are in pulling us back, helping us to revert, to revel in saving grace while resisting transforming grace.
  • Declaring ourselves changed enough, holy enough. Resting on past progress and viewing ourselves in comparison to others has a way of making us resistant to present obedience.
  • Thinking of grace only in passive terms, God saves me by his grace, God will change me by his grace, and finally God will glorify me his grace. That however is not the whole truth; God’s saving grace compels us to believe, to repent, to confess, God’s glorifying grace is preceded by perseverance, and God’s transforming grace requires our cooperation and obedience.

Read the first sentence again. None of us needs just a little bit of Jesus, a little bit grace, we need all of Christ and all of God’s grace, anything less is self-deception, will make us pull up short of God’s marvelous grace (Hebrews 12:15). On the flipside, there is nothing like being transformed by God’s grace, We all … are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit” 2 Corinthians 3:18 (HCSB).

To God be all glory,. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

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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

 

 

 

 

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Waiting

Have you ever been tired of waiting? Like when you are on hold on the telephone for the “next representative” (I think there really is only one who does lots of different voices)? Or maybe at the fast food joint where the food is so fast they can’t catch it? Or at the airport security line when you are pressed for time? Maybe it is for that tool, book, or GPS you loaned out? Or how about that apology, thank you, or a little help? Maybe it is for that break, that fortuitous change, that streak of good luck?

Most Germans are not good at waiting (This German excluded). Next time you are at the airport look for a bunch of people wearing sandals and socks who sound like they’re arguing when they talk (and they might be). You can almost read their collective mind as they scheme, jokey, look for the passing lane, and quite literally will run you over if you don’t watch it. The goal is to be first, to outwit everyone else, to win, to be able to sit in your seat and watch all the losers dejectedly file in after you and try to find some space for their overhead luggage. Maybe you have observed people other than Germans behave in such a way, or maybe you strangely find yourself being described by the above. This can only mean two things: 1. you are more German than you think, 2. a bunch of Germans have bypassed you and you have not moved for an hour, so you have decided if you can’t beat them, join them.

Being tired of waiting is often accompanied by desperation. Time is the most irreplaceable resource we have. While we wait we lose life, opportunity, and depending on what we are waiting for, hope. After all we don’t have forever. It feels strange that the scriptures encourage us to learn to wait. Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD”
Psalm 27:14 (NASB), is King David’s advice when life pushes us to be desperate.

Being tired of waiting is often the stage right before giving up. At what point do you throw in the towel, hang up, check out, cut your losses. You can’t wait forever, can you? There comes a time to move on, to no longer wait. Right? Yes and no. Some things we are waiting for we might actually need to let go, while some things we never meant to let go of, especially faith, hope, and love (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Nobody is better at waiting than God. This doesn’t mean he always waits forever, nor does it mean God overlooks things, but his patience, his long-suffering, his kindness, his mercy, his grace, and his love are amazing. In a way we will run out of life before God runs out of patience. If you have breath it is clear evidence that God hasn’t thrown in the towel on you, given up on you, hoping to save you, change you, grow you, and use you for his kingdom and glory. It is a glorious and gracious reality, God’s waiting, even on our worst day, when we are tired of waiting, desperate, and even ready to give up, God has waited for you and me to engage us with his love, hope, strength, mercy, and grace.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” Isaiah 40:28-31 (NIV).

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

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When (Advent)

https://i0.wp.com/cache.gawker.com/assets/images/lifehacker/2010/12/when-to-decide---title.jpg

When
will this economy turn around? When are we going to get there? When are we going to stop and eat? Doctor, when will I be able to …? When is this kid going to have some sense? When are you going to fix that …? And when will be a good time for us to talk about this? When is dad going to come home? When are you going to learn to pick up after yourself? When will whatever is smelling so incredible be ready to eat? When will I be old enough to …? When will things get better? When will God answer my prayer? When will God do what he said He will do?

When!

When I
am 18 I am out of here! When I get home I am going to whoop his little hiney! When I get the chance I will kiss her! When I win the Lotto I will buy all my friends a new car! When I retire I will never again …! When I retire I will …! When I get back on my feet I’ll pay you back, I promise! When I get paid, you’ll get paid! When you …, it makes me so mad I could …! When you get better we will …! When, not if, we stand before God, everyone will bow and confess that Christ is Lord!

When.

When you

are going to be late, call. When she asks a rhetorical question, either give the answer she is looking for or be willing to pay the consequences. When you have more than you need, give, bless someone. When she kisses you by all means kiss back. When you have the opportunity to do good, do it. When you talk less you’ll sin less, and you will be wiser. When you trust God, keep His commands and ways, and believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior, you will be blessed and not be disappointed.

When? When! When. That little word was part of people’s lives back before Christ was born every bit as much as it is part of our lives today. It is amazing what a difference tone makes when “when” is employed. Try it, read some of the above with an irritated, or angry, or sarcastic, happy, impatient, kind, hopeful, or “I am in a super good mood” voice.

People wondered about, scoffed at, ignored, or didn’t even know about the first coming of Jesus Christ, God in human form. God certainly had prophesied that the Christ/Messiah/Savior would come, but the exact when was difficult to figure out. As much as the first coming of Jesus was promised and foretold there is still a Second Advent, a return of Christ that has also been
prophesied. When? Only God knows, but if you ignore Christ’s first coming you will guaranteed not be ready at his second coming? Being able to set the exact date and time is not nearly as important as being able to answer the question: When Jesus comes again, will you be ready?

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

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