Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘spiritual health’ Category

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8 (ESV)

It seems like it should be the last thing we should need to be reminded of, and even less that we should have to be commanded to love. But the reality is we do need to be reminded and commanded to love. God certainly thinks so and in his written word (the Bible) he reminds us to love:

  • God
  • Jesus Christ
  • Our Neighbor
  • Each Other
  • Our spouses
  • Our children
  • The Alien
  • The Poor
  • Sinners
  • Our Enemies
  • And …

God does not suggest to us to love all of the above, he commands us to, which tells us he does not consider it optional. We like for love to be optional, for us to feel it, and when we don’t we give ourselves a free pass. God, however, wants us to think of love as optimal, regardless of how we feel, and he knows more about love than anyone of us.

God’s commands expect radical commitment, total participation, full obedience. They don’t come with a lot of legal fine print, but they do come with an expectation of us living by them because we trust God, because we are sure that in his love, goodness, and holiness he will only command us what is best for us.

When God commands us to love he is leading by example, he is not asking us to do anything he has not done so himself. He has practiced:

  • Faithful love
  • Persevering love
  • Sacrificial love
  • Forgiving love
  • Patient love
  • Humble love
  • Risk-taking love
  • Extreme love
  • Honest love
  • Tender love
  • Promise- keeping love
  • Giving-your-all love
  • Selfless love
  • Merciful love
  • Unfathomable love
  • And …

Too many of us have experienced the absence of love, the opposite of love, twistedness masquerading as love, conditional love. Too many of us practice manipulative love, fearful love, even sick love. So, not trusting others and ourselves we are cautious, mistrusting, fearful with love. This why we need to be both reminded and be commanded to love on an entirely different level than our experience and fears compel us to and cause us to settle for.

I wish I could tell you that I no longer need to be reminded to love like God wants me to, commands me to, and has shown me himself through Christ. I wish I could hang up a Ph.D. diploma earned from DUL.edu (Divine University of Love), but all too often I find myself still in the Grammar School of love. I am not saying this as an excuse, but because I still need to and want to learn. I know God is right in all his reminders and commands for me to live a life of love.

God doesn’t just remind and command, he provides and enables as well, especially regarding his commands to love. He provides opportunities to love and grow in love. He gives ability and strength to love when we can’t fathom how to or have plum run out of love. He allows us to tap his endless reservoir of love. He blesses and uses every effort we make to keep his commandments to love.

There is one thing God will not do when it comes to love, he won’t make us – we have to choose, decide to, pursue, and want to live a life of love.

To God be all Glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

P.S. A good place to start keeping God’s commands to love is with the people currently in your life, the people God brings across your path today.

 

Read Full Post »

When a doctor gets sick of sick people, that’s a problem. When a pilot begins to loathe flying, that’s a problem. When a cook becomes disgusted by cooking, that’s a problem. When a teacher starts disliking students, that’s a problem. When a preacher/pastor hates church, that’s a problem. And, when Christians are down on the church, that’s a problem.

So, think with about the church for a minute:

It was Jesus’ idea to form the church, “… I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it” Matthew 16:18 (NLT2). So to think of the church as something irrelevant and unimportant or worse is to call Jesus’ plan for his church a bad idea.

Jesus is the head of the church, “He is also the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything” Colossians 1:18 (HCSB). So, it makes little sense to proclaim a personal relationship with Jesus but have no connection and submission to his church.

Jesus loves and died for the church, “… Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her” Ephesians 5:25 (NLT2). So, how can I claim to love Jesus and love what he loves and paid the ultimate price for?

The church is the body of Christ, “Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part” 1 Corinthians 12:13-14 (NLT2). So, since the same Holy Spirit who regenerates a sinner at the moment of salvation also places every believer in the body of Christ, I have no business living a life outside of that body.

The church is central to God’s plan and work in our world, “Through Christians like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels!” Ephesians 3:10 (MSG). So being apathetic and disconnected from God’s church also I am not fully participating in God’s plan.

Jesus takes his church very seriously. So, he continually works on it, refines it, confronts it, encourages it, watches out for it, Revelation 2-3, Ephesians 5:26), and should not take it any less serious.

Church, being part of a church, participating in the work of the church is meant to become a habit, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching” Hebrews 10:23-25 (NIV). So, I need to learn to be so involved and committed to the church that I no longer have to think about my commitment to it, my participation in it, my showing up for it.

We live in an I-Me-Mine culture, the Christian life is a stark contrast to this, it is about Him-You-Us-We (which is not to say that God does not care for each one of us individually and in Christ saves each one us personally). Switching from one to the other takes some major adjusting, reordering, rescheduling, and a total commitment to personal holiness and full participation in the body of Christ, his Church.

So, did you notice? This preacher is still high on Jesus’ Church, and the local body he has called me to pastor, hoping you will share the same appreciation and enthusiasm.

So, does your Christian life reflect an understanding of Christ’s church? Are you as committed the church, the body of Christ, as God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit would have you?

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

Read Full Post »

How much time of your life have you spent waiting? On the phone being on hold? In a car stuck in traffic? In a doctor’s office or hospital waiting room? In a checkout line? For a reply to an email, text, an application, or test? For someone to show up?

How good are you at waiting? Are you the patient or impatient kind? Do you progress from irritated, to grumpy, to nasty rather quickly? Let’s face it, we live in a most impatient culture, time is money, waiting wastes the most precious resource of them all – life itself. We want it now, not later! We want things to be in stock or qualify for free same or next day delivery. Heck, we get irritated if the confirmation text or email takes longer than 30 seconds.

Have you ever considered how much waiting God has woven into the fabric of life? How much waiting there is in the Bible? You have to wait nine months to see and hold your baby. Almost everything we eat didn’t grow overnight, needed time to grow and ripen. You can’t speed up the seasons, you have to wait for each one to arrive and take its turn. The earth turns and circles at its own steady pace, it will take 364 from Christmas to Christmas, from New year to New Year. The ancient Israelites yearned for deliverance and freedom for hundreds of years, the Jews were looking for the Messiah for over a thousand years before Jesus appeared. The martyred saints, who have been crying for justice under the altar of God for who knows how long (Revelation 6:9-11), were told to wait a little longer.

From as far back as can remember an Advent Calendar (it counts down the 24 days before Christmas) is part of my Christmas memories. At first, it had just pictures in it, until someone had the bright idea to put a piece of chocolate behind each calendar window – needless to say, some days were raided prematurely, we couldn’t wait. But, Advent still takes 24 days, even though Christmas shopping has sped up, Black Friday shopping now starts early in the week and Cyber Monday will try to catch up.

Waiting slows us down but it does not necessarily mean doing nothing, especially when you are walking through life with God. Since patience is a fruit of the indwelling Spirit of God (Galatians 5:22-23) whenever and for whatever God makes us wait is not without purpose. It is a great paradox that in a world were everything seems to speed up God slows us down, that in a culture that hates to wait, God refuses to speed things up, for people who want things now, God has not opened a convenience store nor offers same-day shipping to expedite answers to prayers.

We are no longer waiting for the first appearance of the Christ (Messiah), we merely remember it, but we are waiting for the return of Christ, the consummation of the ages, the completion of salvation, the execution of complete justice. In that waiting impatience is a dangerous thing, it sidetracks us, gets us out ahead of God, has us running through life at a crazy pace like the rest of our world, with little time for prayer, for worship, for anticipation, reflection, and dependence. Our impatience wants to cram our lives full of what we want. In having us wait, God is trying to create room in our lives for what and how he wants it. We want life to take place at our pace, God is continually inviting us to slow down to his.

How we wait tells a lot about whose agenda we are on, who and what we are most concerned about. How we respond to being slowed down says a lot about what is going on inside of us. What are you waiting on God for this Christmas season? Whose pace are you on during this Advent?

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:28-31 (ESV)

To God be all glory, even when waiting. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heaven!
Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness!
Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn; praise him with the lyre and harp!
Praise him with the tambourine and dancing; praise him with strings and flutes!
Praise him with a clash of cymbals; praise him with loud clanging cymbals.
Let everything that breathes sing praises to the LORD! Praise the LORD!
Psalm 150:1-6 (NLT2)

I am assuming, by the fact that you are reading this pastor’s note, that you are breathing, which means Psalm 150 above is talking about you.

You might not have enough breath to produce a blast out of the “ram’s horn,” maybe not even enough to get it to squeak, but if you have any breath you are capable of praising God, the LORD.

You might not have the skill to play the lyre, harp, strings, or flute, but if you are breathing right now you are capable of praising God, the LORD.

Your dancing days might be over and a tambourine in your hands might not be a good thing, but if you can wiggle just a bit and even if that little bit leaves you out of breath you can still and should still praise God, the LORD.

Letting you play the drums might be huge mistakes and the end of any band, but if you can bang two pots together you are capable of praising God, the LORD.

So, the question is: Are you praising God? Are you known as someone who habitually and continually praises God? Are you using your breath and the life your breath represents to praise God? Because, if I read the last line of Psalm 150 correctly, every living, breathing thing is meant to praise God, the Lord, and that includes the two living, breathing two of us.

The donkey living a few houses down uses his breath to praise God and when he does, you know it. The many birds around our houses give daily morning and evening concerts of praise even when they had a hard day or difficult week. How much more should you and I, image-bearers of God, excel in singing praises to God!

It’s a mistake to quit praising God, to shut down our ability to praise God, to use up our breath with complaints, fears, anxieties, trivialities, things that don’t deserve repeating, empty talk, ugly words, and songs dripping with negativity. Of all the creatures capable of praising God we are the ones who have to choose to do so, we can choose to so.

So, give it a try, get out a pot and a big wooden spoon, step outside with it, look up and begin praising God for his greatness and follow each statement of praise with a resounding “BANG!” On your way to work this week turn off the news, the talking heads, your song list, and instead spend some time praising God for who he is and what he has done in your life. At the dinner table share your “Today, I praise God for ….!” And next weekend, come to the “sanctuary,” God’s house, to lift up your praises alongside others who delight to use their breath to praise God.

To God be all glory! Have a great Thanksgiving. Pastor Hans

 

P.S. If you are not traveling this Thanksgiving, invite someone in your neighborhood who would otherwise be alone to be part of your Thanksgiving celebration and feast.

 

Read Full Post »

Look carefully then how you walk (live), not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:15-21 (ESV, parenthesis mine)

“Get out and get me someone competent in here!” the ER doctor yelled after the assisting nurse had contaminated the sterile field while the doctor was sewing up a deep gash that exposed the kneecap. You can’t be too careful when it comes to avoiding infection.

Have you ever been to a classic car show? Talk about paying attention to every last little detail, whipping off every little spot, polishing even nooks and crannies to a full shine.

You can tell when someone is being careful about something. What we should be most careful about is how we live, specifically being a wise person down to small details of our lives, carefully avoiding any contamination of foolish behavior. In the scripture passage above Paul lays out seven marks of a wise person, of a careful follower of Christ:

  1. Wise persons/believers seek wisdom. No one comes by wisdom magically but rather by pursuing it, searching for it, and when finding it applying it.
  1. Wise persons/believers manage their time, don’t waste time, fill and spend their time wisely.
  1. Wise persons/believers not only acknowledge God but actively seek to know God’s will and then radically adjust their lives to God’s will.
  1. Wise persons/believers are careful about what controls them and avoid handing over control over to anyone but the Holy Spirit.
  1. Wise persons/believers are worshippers, not just for an hour on Sunday, but all the time. They keep their worship earbuds in all the time and have a very distinctive song list.
  1. Wise persons/believers practice and express gratitude. They notice even the small beautiful, kind, thoughtful, acts and blessings, and are good at tracing them back to their source – God.
  1. Wise persons/believers live in community, don’t isolate themselves, but acknowledge their need for one another, know the benefit of living life and serving God together.

Isn’t it strange how we can be very careful about some things while at the same time being sloppy, careless, even foolish about other things? You and I don’t have anything more valuable than the life God gave us than the living soul he created us to be. Let’s be most careful about it. Look again at the seven points above and mark the ones that need attention, need changing, need for you to learn to be careful with.

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

Read Full Post »

  • Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (NASB)

Being a follower of Christ, a Christian means being a disciple-maker, which means leading others to faith in Christ, to follow Christ, and to grow in Christ. It means to go out by the authority of Jesus to reach the entire world with the Gospel of Christ and training all those who turn to Christ for salvation, forgiveness of sin, and eternal life.

Disciple-makers have to, first of all, be disciples themselves, learning and observing all Jesus commanded ourselves, being genuine and committed ourselves. This doesn’t mean you have to wait to be disciple-maker until you have it all down perfectly (you never will), but it does mean we have to be ongoing learners and practitioners all the time and everywhere.

  • “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NASB)

Every disciple of Christ is also a witness of Christ, of the fact that Jesus is alive, that he conquered sin, death, and the grave. A good witness needs two things, a testimony and integrity, truth and credibility. Jesus told his disciples that through the Holy Spirit he would empower them to be his witness. Interestingly the Holy Spirit is called Holy, true holiness includes absolute integrity, it is spotless, The Holy Spirit is also called the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17, 15:26, 16:13). Since he empowers us to be Jesus’ witnesses, we can assume he will continually work towards us embracing holiness and truthfulness, to have a genuine testimony and integrity.

  • So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” John 20:21 (NASB) “For even the Son of Man (Jesus) did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 (NASB, parenthesis mine)

Every disciple of Jesus, everyone who testifies of Jesus is meant to act like Jesus, to carry out the will of God like Jesus, to be a servant to both God and people like Jesus. We are on God’s, Jesus’ mission.

  • We are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For 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 5:20-21 (NLT2)

Christians are Christ’s representatives, ambassadors of God’s kingdom. We are meant to be about Christ’s interests, Jesus’ politics, Jesus’ message to the whole world.

  • Disciple, disciple-maker, witness, sent servant, ambassador – GO!

 

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness
. Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)

  Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13 (ESV)

 You will tell his people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins.
Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.”
Luke 1:77-79 (NLT2)

 The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.
Psalm 145:8-9 (ESV)

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Matthew 5:7 (ESV)

No one ever paid for God’s mercy because for one it is free, and for another, none of us could afford to pay for it, it’s completely out of our price range (Romans 11:33-36; 2 Corinthians 9:15). But truth be told, we often treat God’s mercy like a raggedy couch sitting by a curb with a scraggly “Free” sign on it, smiling as we drive past.

We like things that make us feel warm and fuzzy, especially about God. New, fresh, daily mercies and love – awesome (and it is). Mercy triumphing over judgment – thumbs up (yeah). Tender mercies cleaning up our sin mess – who doesn’t like that (I sure do). Gracious, merciful, super-patient, loving, good to me God – that’s definitely the kind of God I like. God blessing and giving to me – sign me up. Sometimes you get lucky and that couch with the free sign is actually in decent shape and super comfy, but do I really want to mess with it?

Nothing about God and his mercy is cheap, optional, or comfortable. He, in His mercy, makes life possible, extends patience, holds back his wrath and judgment, supplies and sustains not just our lives but the universe as a whole. Every sunrise we have witnessed, every sunset we photographed, every breath we have taken, every heartbeat counted, every kindness experienced, every opportunity that unfolded, every drop of love that fell on us traces back to God, to Christ, to his tender mercy and love.

Sitting on that unstained, beautiful, and free couch should make us grateful, cause us to be devoted worshippers, have us value this kind of and this magnitude of mercy as priceless, and inspire us to be merciful like our Heavenly Father (Luke 6:36). Did you notice the last scripture above? The only way to not be cut off from God’s mercy is to embrace it, be transformed by it, and become an extension of it (Matthew 18:21-34). If we do that, instead of merely settling for some fuzzy god-feeling and god-idea of our liking, we will be both be blessed and be a blessing, and/but it and we won’t be cheap (and that is a good thing).

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: