Archive for the ‘repentance’ Category

“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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Take a look at your hands and ask yourself, “How good am I of letting go.” Now pick up two things, one with your left hand and one with your right. Keep holding those two items as you go to the kitchen to make yourself a cup of tea or coffee. (Email me with the outcome of this exercise, dergermanshepherd@gmail.com).

We hold onto things with more than just our hands, our minds and hearts know to grasp and not let go every bit as our hands, maybe even better. It doesn’t really matter what we use to hold on to something, as long as we hold on to one thing it limits us, or completely prevents us, from grasping or doing something else.

My brother, who was a pain specialist, once told me that after a while our nerves will hold onto pain even if the source of the pain is removed. Have you ever had to pry your fingers off something you had hold onto for a long time? Letting go can be very hard, even painful, especially if we have held onto something for a very long time, if what we have held onto was very heavy, if what we have held onto is very important to us. I don’t want to hold onto things that will damage me, that will deform me, that will cause pain long after something is past, that will prevent me from laying hold of better things.

My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead. Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus” Philippians 3:10-14 (HCSB).

Real maturity and Christlikeness are impossible without knowing what to let go and what to hold onto. I hear the Apostle Paul saying, “I let go of everything that would prevent me grasping everything God, through Christ, has for me. So I have to learn to be good at letting go.”

How good are you at letting go? What do need to let go? What “worries, wounds, wrongs, weaknesses, and wishes” (Eric Rees) do you need to let go?

Before you finish this p-note can I encourage you to get a Bible, find Philippians and read both chapter 2 and 3 (or maybe all of it), then sit down, look at your hands again, and then have a conversation with God about what he would have let go of.

To God be all glory, Pastor Hans


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Letting Go

Lying, cheating, dishonesty, deception, jealousy, malice, bitterness, revenge, anger, gossiping, evil, hate, greed, grief, ingratitude, entitlement, bad habits, stinginess, pessimism, lousy attitudes, laziness, immorality, godlessness, cynicism, gluttony, hedonism, bragging, arrogance, brutality, violence, unkindness, wasting, selfishness, carelessness, not caring, all forms of abuse, stealing, covetousness, ignorance, all sins, self-serving, hurtful speech, malingering, unforgiveness, drunkenness, addictions, disrespect, purposelessness, excuses, judgmentalism, destructive behaviors, betrayal, not taking responsibility, not being responsible, pride, ….

You hold onto any of the above you will end up twisted, or torn, or fake, or disliked, or hated, or distrusted, or broken, or …. Think about it, how much hurt is wrapped up in the list you just read? How much pain, despair, and darkness? Why in the world do we hang on to things on that list? Why do we have such a difficult time letting go of what is so obviously wrong, to what is no good, to what does not contribute to make us or our world better?

It is not for lack of trying, most of us have moments when we want to change for the better. Have you ever walked away after watching an inspiring movie, or after finishing an inspiring book, maybe even after hearing an inspiring sermon, and felt like you too could do something heroic, you too could rise above your hurts, your chains, your limitations. But then there comes the next morning and you awake to your daily grind, to your unchanged self, to the realization that this stuff is a whole lot easier in movies, books, and sermons than it is everyday life. How quickly euphoria, moments of tender conscience, flickers of hope fade. “I should,” “I want to,” does not easily translate into “I did.” Especially when it comes to addressing the things we should let go of and the root of why we have such a hard time letting go of what is sinful, destructive, and painful, and exchange it for what is godly, good, and blessing.

Why has humanity throughout all of its history hung on to the list on top of this pastor’s note? Why do you and hang on to items on that list when it is anything but in our best interest? The answer is not merely physiological or psychological, it is above all spiritual, theological. Unfortunately in the minds of many the spiritual/theological has been reduced to the subjective, the experiential, and the sociological. This has the effect of spiritual/theological having no real significance in regard to truth, to what is real. Well, what is real is that humanity, including you and me, is sinful at its core, “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23) is the clear revelation and verdict of word of God. We do not necessarily like that, but we cannot escape the truth. Nor do we like the truth that we cannot escape our sinfulness, our depravity on our own, we are “by nature children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3), meaning our very nature makes us objects of God’s judgment. The good news is that when the Apostle Paul writes to the Ephesian believers he does not write “you are” but rather “you were by nature children of wrath.”

A sinner will hold on to all the wrong things. A sinner will be held onto by all the wrong things. We do not possess the righteousness and the power to change that, to let go of all we need to let go, for that we need the grace of God in Christ. If we are serious about letting go we have address the root so the grace of God can freely work in our lives, to save us from God’s wrath and to change us for God’s works. The grace of God is sufficient to both save and change a sinner, it is absolutely essential if we are serious about letting go.

All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,
made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:3-10 (NIV)

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

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If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small. Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to die; save them as they stagger to their death. Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.” For God understands all hearts, and he sees you. He who guards your soul knows you knew. He will repay all people as their actions deserve. Proverbs 24:10-12 (NLT)

70 years ago, on January 27, Auschwitz, the Nazi concentration and extermination camp was liberated. 1.1 million people were murdered there, not because they had been convicted of some crime deserving death but because they did not fit Nazi ideology, and most of them because they were Jews. In order to pull of mass murder on that scale the Nazi leadership had brainwash, intimidate , and silence most all of Germany. Think about it, how else do you slaughter millions of human beings without any large scale opposition? How do you keep it out of the media? How do you manage to keep an entire country from crying out against it? It really is an old play book, cooked up in hell a long time ago.

You have to have great slogans, “ARBEIT MACHT FREI” (work liberates) hung at the entrance of concentration camps. A little hard work never has harmed anybody, has it? “For God and country.” “Allahu Akbar” (God is the greatest). “A woman’s right to choose.” What fool would challenge God and patriotism? Who can deny that God is the greatest? Who doesn’t endorse the freedom to choose? Great slogans ease the conscience; mollify the urge to think for yourself. You want people to love the slogans regardless of the truth.

You have to intimidate, sow fear to point that people are glad that what happens to others does not happen to them. You have to exploit what every kid learns on the school playground – to be afraid of being laughed at, being ostracized, to be called names, to be bullied, of being hurt. Terror works, fear is powerful. You have to be willing to belittle, shout down, embarrass, defame, lie, betray, hurt, and kill in the name of the cause. Sowing fear can’t worry about being clean, getting dirty, embracing violence, a “few” dispensable lives.

You have to be good at stripping real people of their humanity. You want people to think that Jews are categorically bad, the infidels are bad, an unwanted unplanned baby is bad, as are liberals, conservatives, environmentalists, homosexuals and all of the LBGTQ crowd, fundamentalists, Christians, Muslims, atheists they are all bad. And it is okay to dislike bad, to hate bad. Getting rid of bad is not that bad of a thing, in fact it might even be good. The less bad people there are the better; you have to be completely out of touch to disagree with that. Bad also doesn’t deserve the same rights as good, does it? Bad and bad people are really more of an issue to be dealt with, personalizing only complicates things. It is much easier to deal with an issue like the issue of slavery, the issue of the Jews, the issue of abortion, the issue of the Middle East Conflict, the issue of Aids, of Ebola, hunger, injustice. Issues are far easier to deal with, they don’t stare you in the eye, issues don’t have beating hearts.

On January 22, 1973 the US Supreme Court legalized abortion, since then 55,000,000 (55 million!) human beings have lost their lives through abortion in the United States alone. They have fallen victim to pills, solutions, suction machines, dismemberment, and the like. Where is the outrage, the disgust, the shame? There has not been one, not a single aborted child that was less than 100% human. There has not been one aborted child guilty or even accused of a crime. The reason they have been so easily and mercilessly killed is that they have been stripped of their humanity (How conditioned have we become to zygote, embryo, fetus as meaning something less than human). They have been called “mistakes,” “inconveniences,” “bad timing,” “accidents,” everything but what they really are – persons, human beings, living images of God. They have been deemed dispensable, we are better off without them than with them. They have been stripped of the most basic human rights and legal protection under the smoke screen of a woman’s right to choose. They have been made into issue to debate rather than people to love.

O that there would be “liberty and justice for all.”

To God be all glory, Pastor Hans

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“Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Accept my teachings and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives (souls). The teaching that I ask you to accept is easy; the load I give you to carry is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NCV, parenthesis mine)

It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.” Luke 11:1 (NASB)

How open are you to change? If you want rest for your soul, if you want to be a man/woman of prayer, if you want to be wise, if you want your finances not to be a mess, if you want to be a better husband/wife or a better father/mother, if you want to please God, be used by God, and be blessed by God then you have to be willing to learn and to be taught, which also means you have to be willing to change.

Change is hard, in part because it involves giving something up, learning something new, doing things different, acquiring knowledge, wisdom, habits, and skills we do not have. Change is hard because we are already doing or not doing something that needs to be changed. Generally we would rather have someone, especially God, bail us out rather than do engage in the hard work, diligence, frustration, and effort of change. We much prefer to just shed some tears and then have someone else, preferably God, respond to those tears without us having to change.

Repentance, living in the Holy Spirit, holiness, love, godliness, spiritual growth, living by faith, renewing your mind, submitting to one another, seeking first God’s kingdom, storing up treasure in heaven are all part of the Christian experience and they all involve change, a willingness to change, to be taught, to learn. Not just once but throughout our lives.

Want rest? Want rest for your soul? Want to be great at praying? Want God to bless you? Want your life to bless God and others? Want your life to count and make an eternal difference? Then you have to change, first of all by coming to God/Christ who is both able to change the unchangeable (make sinner clean and acceptable to him through the blood of Christ) and help us change; secondly you have to be willing to learn new ways, adopt new attitudes, develop better habits, acquire new skills, seek wisdom from above and knowledge, and let God use you as he sees fit.

How open we are to change will determine how much we will actually change. How open do you think God wants you to be changed, to be taught, to learn?

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans


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Dogs and Watchmen/women

Our dogs are napping more. Doing so means they are neglecting one of their two responsibilities they have. They are still doing a fine job greeting people, everyone is greeted with one dog squeaking like a toy and the other giving a hearty lick. But it’s the second task they’re slacking on. I can tell, the deer are chomping on stuff and in places they never have before, while our two well fed canines are snoozing their lives away. If it is true that one human year equals seven dog years then a two hour nap by my watch is a fourteen hour dog nap. Wow, I had no idea how bad that slacking thing has actually become until I just did the above math. These dogs are not just slacking a bit they are taking total advantage of the situation. The way this is going pretty soon they will install a bell so they can ring for us to feed them in bed.

Don’t you wish you only had two responsibilities, you only had to watch over two things? Sometimes it seems like too much, all the things to watch over, to take care of, to be responsible for. I wonder if Ezekiel felt like that? When his wife got sick and died God told him to refrain from any outward, public acts of mourning (chapter 24). I bet he had to watch himself on that. Then God told him to be careful because God had appointed him, assigned him as a spiritual watchman for his countrymen, and that God would hold him responsible if he failed to warn people regarding their accountability to God, that they needed to change their ways while there was time or else suffer the judgment of God.

And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Son of man, speak to the sons of your people and say to them, ‘If I bring a sword upon a land, and the people of the land take one man from among them and make him their watchman,
and he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows on the trumpet and warns the people, then he who hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, and a sword comes and takes him away, his blood will be on his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning; his blood will be on himself. But had he taken warning, he would have delivered his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman’s hand.’
Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth and give them warning from Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand. But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life”
Ezekiel 33:1-9 (NASB).

Now Ezekiel’s contemporaries could have cared less, his warnings went in one ear and out the other (read the end of the chapter). His warnings fell on deaf ears. At what point do you begin to be tempted to slack off when no one’s paying attention? But regardless of the responses of those around him they needed to be warned, as do the people around us, our family members, our neighbors, friends, class mates, coworkers, employees, and acquaintances. Those we love, those we don’t care for, and even our enemies need to know that now is the time to repent, not later, the judgment of God is on its way. This is what Jesus told people everywhere, “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:15 (NIV), and it is what he told his followers to do, “So the disciples went out, telling everyone they met to repent of their sins and turn to God” Mark 6:12 (NLT).

Followers of Jesus Christ are watchmen and women, may those who he has assigned us to find us faithfully “blowing the trumpet.”

To God be all glory, love you Pastor Hans


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That squirrel must have done something, something bad, at least in the eyes of the two woodpeckers giving it the beating of his life. I don’t know why I’m assuming that gray squirrel was a male, girls get into trouble too, don’t they? Those woodpeckers pecked, dive bombed, sat on the squirrels back and wacked it with their beaks. Now I imagine a woodpecker beak is as tough as steel. I am sure if you’d ask that squirrel she would totally agree. Finally after about fifty yards the squirrel made it to the side of the road and disappeared down an embankment. I thought about throwing out a few aspirin in that direction, because I was sure that was going to be one sore little arboreal rodent. I was also glad to be in a car in case those acorn woodpeckers were going to unleash their fury on me.

I am curious what that squirrel did to reap the wrath of those birds? And what is it going to do in the future? My guess is that it will not do “that” again. But it might go the opposite route, like we often do, and decide to invest a helmet and some body armor (but if I write a pastor’s note claiming to have seen a squirrel donning a helmet and armor then you might want to stop reading them).

What when our conscience fails us, when we do bad and nothing is pecking away on us? What if we have developed armor, calluses that allow us to continue in our wrong without anymore sense of guilt?

I don’t speak squirrel, and they do speak (you should hear all their yakking in our back yard trees), but I could bet I heard, “I’m sorry guys. Really, I am really, really sorry. I am so sorry you can stop now. Please. Pretty please. I really mean it please!” But I think its sincerity was questionable. I think it was just sorry enough to get out of the presently administered pecking. It probably cussed those #@%@## birds out the very next day, albeit from the safety of a distant tree.

What if God is pecking on you? What if God is trying to prick your conscience? I am grateful God doesn’t unleash steel beaked woodpeckers whenever I transgress, whenever I trespass into bad behavior, bad attitude, bad thinking, bad motives, or bad words (bad words usually accompany anything bad, but not just in the form of cuss words).

In the second chapter of Acts the Bible records people’s response to Peter preaching the word of God, the gospel. They were “pierced in the hearts,” their conscience was wounded. In fact the Greek word “katanusso,” according to the NASB dictionary means to “prick violently,” like two wood peckers on a squirrel. Feeling as they did they asked, “What should we do?”

“Repent, deal with your sins, and identify yourself, your life with Jesus Christ,” was Peter’s reply. Many did just that, and many went and bought helmets, put some calluses on their consciences and hearts. But it really doesn’t matter what they did or didn’t do. What are you going to do when God confronts your bad?

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans


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