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Archive for the ‘revelation’ Category

Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”                                                                                            Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.”
Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.”
John 11:38-42 (ESV)

Have you ever given thanks to God for not answering your prayer, for ignoring your request, for making you wait?

Jesus didn’t come when they wanted him to, instead he waited, delayed. He ignored their implied request to heal Lazarus, one of his best friends, he let him suffer and die. Nor did Jesus book a redeye flight to be there as soon as possible for Lazarus’ distraught and grieving sisters. It took him four whole days to show up, which meant he missed even the funeral.

When Jesus finally got there Lazarus’ two sisters said aloud what everyone else thought, “If you would have been there our brother would not have died” Luke 1:22&32). Ouch, no gratitude here, only accusation, confusion, and silently screaming “Why?” The Son of God who could have intervened didn’t; the Omnipotent who can, didn’t; what he did for others he didn’t do for his friends. Why in the world would he refuse to do what was obviously needed, use his power to heal, and instead responded with inactivity that said, “No?”

“Open the tomb! You’ve got to be kidding! Martha is right, there will be a stench. In fact, this whole situation stinks. He could have and should have done something, but he didn’t. And now he stands there and is thanking God! – this guy is unbelievable.”

Out of all the times in life when we are told, “No,” being told, “No,” by God is the most confusing, especially when our requests feel legitimate,  unselfish,  about good outcomes, and are out of deep desperation. We expect God to at least care as much as we do.

What if Jesus would have acquiesced, had come in a hurry, had healed Lazarus, had kept him out of the grave, had said, “Yes,” to their requests and did things the way they had wanted him to. They would have known him less. They would have been condemned to a life of desperate calls for Jesus (God) to hurry, to fix, to bail out. They would have been stuck with an “Ambulance Jesus.” They would have continued in the same old fears. They would have been deprived of a glimpse of who he really is, “The resurrection and the life” (John 11:25-26).

It is a great scene, isn’t it, when Jesus tells four-days-dead-and-decomposing Lazarus to “Come forth!” and then instructs them to take the burial clothes off him (John 11:44-45). Can you imagine the amazement, the joy, the awe? It would not have happened without Jesus waiving their initial request, without Jesus willing Lazarus to die, without Jesus waiting for days before showing up.

We think the best thing is when God answers our prayers the way we think is best, but it infinitely better when God responds to our petitions and requests, no matter how desperately we feel, the way he thinks is best, including him saying, “No, child.” How thankful I am that he not only knows what is best but also does what is best, undaunted by our expectations, frustration, desperation, pain, and confusion.

To God be all glory. Love you Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

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If you are searching for that that last minute or super special Christmas gift you might want to consider having a star named for the person you have on your mind. You can choose between an “Ordinary Star” (from $19.95), and “Extra Bright Star” (from $39.95), or a “Binary Star” (from $64.95). If you want go all out with this idea you can go with the gift sets (from $74.95, $84.95, $124.94 respectively).  You could join 17,000 others who plunked their money down to have someone’s name attached to a real star by this independent, albeit unofficial, star registry. Yes, you could brighten someone’s Christmas Day, more accurately night, in a way they never imagined. And if you ever misplace or lose your “Star Deed” you can contact the good folks at STARNAME Registry.org and they will help you. I am sure the passing along of this ordinary, extra, or double “bright idea” will be another reason why you so value my Pastor’s Notes.

I wonder. How much money have stars generated over time? How many other clever star schemes have people come up with? Astrology is alive and well even today, and suckers are still being borne every day. But the stars themselves, the universe as a whole does declare truth, The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship” Psalm 19:1 (NLT); “The heavens proclaim his righteousness; every nation sees his glory” Psalm 97:6 (NLT); “The basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse (for not acknowledging and worshiping God)” Romans 1:19-20 (MSG, parenthesis mine).

Regardless of the tendency of sinful human nature to either exploit and pervert spiritual things or to disregard God and explain him away, the testimony of the stars stands, God is real, his power and wisdom are both incomprehensible and immense, we are accountable to him, and the most proper response to God is to love, worship, and obey him. “Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him’” Matthew 2:1-2 (NLT). That star was visible to anyone who cared to look, but it seems people came to vastly different conclusion and vastly different responses. Most wise men from eastern lands stayed home, kept peddling the same astrology they had for centuries, it is difficult to adjust yourself to spiritual truth. King Herod saw the very notion of a new king as a threat his godless world of politics and power, it is difficult to submit to divine authority. The Jewish elite and scholars did not want their personal, political, and religious world be turned upside down, so they also gave it no significance, it is difficult to take God at his word.

For this Christmas I challenge you to look up into the night sky and see and hear its declaration of God, to pursue spiritual truth, to lead you to worship. If you follow that path it will still lead you to Jesus Christ, God incarnate, the ultimate revelation of God, the one who can save us from our sins.

Merry Christmas. Love you, Pastor Hans

P.S. If you are tempted to go the Star Registry website, RESIST! Instead look for ways to give those $20-100 or so to your church, a missionary agency, the Salvation Army, Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, World Vision, Compassion International, or help someone in your community, or find a way to help the millions of refugees of our day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Susie and I were awarded the rank of “Grandparent” last Tuesday. Shaheed Jr. greeted the light of day at 8 pounds 1 ounce, and 20 inches in length. Dad already claims he looks like him, and by the way Mom is okay. There is just one problem – Susie and I are way too young to be a Grandma and Grandpa, an Oma and Opa.

How in the heck did this happen? It seems like just when you have somewhat figured things out things are changing. I think Moses must have felt like that. His life is marked by three sets of forty years. In each set he had to adjust, make decisions, take on different roles.

The last big adjustment came when he was eighty, yup 80. He was very reluctant, even when he knew for certain that God was talking to him. He came up with all kinds of objections and what ifs, and finally he told God to give the job to someone else, Moses said, ‘Please, Lord, send someone else.’ Then the LORD’s anger burned against Moses, …” Exodus 4:13-14 (HCSB). He ticked God off, He thought this was up for discussion, but it wasn’t anymore than becoming a grandparent is. God doesn’t come to us like He is working for Gallup Polls. He doesn’t reveal his will to us to see whether or not we like it. Moses didn’t realize what privilege it is to be called on by God to carry out His will. The question for Susie and I is not whether or not we like to be grandparents, the question is what kind of grandparents will we be.

I am wondering, has God been calling on you and all He is encountering is reluctance? An unwillingness to change, to adjust your life to His will? Have you been telling God to assign the responsibility to someone else? Are you in danger of ticking God off? Or have you already made him angry?

Moses could have written a book covering the first eighty years of his life, and it would have been great story. But it was the surrender, the adjustment to God’s will he made at eighty that made it a bestseller.

Looking back years later, I wonder if Moses just shook his head at his own foolishness when he thought about the time he told God, “Send someone else.” I wonder what advice he would give to you and me? Then again, I don’t think it is too hard to figure out if you read the story.

My prayer is that you and I will drop any reluctance, that we will see beyond the what ifs, and that we will rejoice in being called on by God?

To God be all glory, love you, Grandpa Hans

 

 

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In the end they all wished they had kept their mouths shut. His friends kept trying to figure out why things had gone so badly for Job? How he could have fallen so fast and so far? “You reap what you sow,” “What goes around comes around,” “You can’t fool karma,” “Your sin has found you out,” was their conclusion.

“No! No! I did everything right, I don’t deserve this,’ was Job’s adamant reply. “If God would just give me hearing this could all be straightened out,” was his plea.

So, round and round they went, until God spoke. Then they wished they had been silent. Job’s friends were plain wrong, their theology was faulty. Job’s expectations were misguided, he thought as long as he did everything right he was insured against calamity, disaster, and suffering.

When God finally spoke he told Job to look around, to consider the universe and all of the physical creation and pay attention to what they say about God. They should inspire us to be in awe. They should cause us to consider the greatness, the wisdom, the inscrutability, the sovereignty of God (Job 38-39). “Job, do you think you are on par with me?” God wanted to know.

There is no shortage of opinions when it comes to God, when it comes to trying to figure out why bad things happen to good people and bad people seem to get away with it. The problem with opinionating is that lacks any awe, it reduces God to the size of our minds, it breeds the hubris that puts us on par with God, and causes us to be blind to the fact that, “… my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV).

When it comes to God we had better pay attention to revelation, to what God tells us about himself. Our opinions about God will cause us to end up in trouble, render us worshipping false gods, or denying God altogether. When God told Job to look around he called him to consider revelation, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” “… the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for God himself is judge” Psalm 19:1, 50:6 (NIV). Theologians call that general revelation, it should inspire humility and awe. The Bible (God’s written word) tells things about God that go beyond what the universe declares about him. It also informs us about what he thinks about us and how we should live. Theologians call the scriptures special revelation, we should give it special attention and it should inspire faith and trust. The greatest revelation of all is Jesus Christ, God’s son, who was literally God in human form (in the flesh), he should inspire us to worship, follow, and imitate him.

Are you still talking, opinionizing? Maybe it time to be still and consider God, not as you want to think of him, but as he has revealed himself in the physical world, the Bible, and through Jesus Christ.

To God be all glory, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

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