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Archive for the ‘stewardship’ Category

Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Psalm 127:3 (NASB)

Fathers (parents), do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 (NIV, parenthesis mine)

No decent parent wants their child/ren to grow up and be a bum or brat, be lazy, dishonest, out of control, ungrateful, disrespectful, irresponsible, rotten, or foolish. Of course, if you leave character building up to chance or to your cute little offspring themselves you will exponentially increase their chances to be some or all of the above.

I had them, this year’s VBS 5-6th grade boys, set up a tent. They yanked it out of the box, opened the zippered bag and went to work, and like typical males didn’t bother to read the instructions, which, by the way, were sown to the zippered bag so there is no chance of losing them. Finally, one of them, Coty, realized it wasn’t going too well, so he sat down and read the instructions, and together with Swain’s leadership they actually managed to set the thing up. I was proud of them.

Why are we so reluctant to read and follow instructions? And why do babies come without any instructions? And why do those “gifts of God” have such a difficult time following instructions while they’re still in diapers and then only get worse at it?

God knows us all too well, that’s why his instructions to parents are clear: Don’t leave the raising of your kids to chance, to mere crisis management, current cultural trends, or somebody else. Don’t exasperate your kids with being absent, disengaged, inconsistent, and not having a plan. Instead, train and instruct them the way God wants you to train and instruct them. This, of course, requires that we as parents know God ourselves, are familiar with his ways, champion his values, live like he wants us to, love what he loves, and read and practice the manual, the instructions, the Bible.

It is possible to raise very decent kids with great values and leave God out of the picture. But it is impossible to raise godly, God-fearing kids and leave God out of the picture. So, if you are lucky/blessed with having one or more of those gifts from God called children, make sure that above all you raise them with God and his Son Jesus Christ in the center of everything, training them and instructing them in all that is important to God, and be the best example of all of that they will ever see. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10 (NIV)

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

P.S. To that end anchor yourself and your family in a local church. I actually know a good one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“And they cast lots for them …” Acts 1:26 (ESV)

They set some criteria, prayed, and drew straws. If you are a church-going person, I imagine, you would be fairly familiar and comfortable with the first two in making a decision or appointing the right person for a leadership position. But then to wrap it up and make it official by drawing a name out of a hat?

Maybe you need a little more information on what happened there at the First Church of Jerusalem? Jesus had chosen twelve Apostles. One of them, Judas Iscariot, turned on him, betrayed him, and killed himself. This left a vacancy and they needed a replacement. Peter, himself being an Apostle, brought up the issue to the whole church (a congregation of about 120 faithful believers). The replacement candidate needed to meet certain criteria which qualified two people. So, who should they pick? That’s when they prayed, asking God to make his will clear to them, and then drew lots to decide between the two.

Do you think it would’ve been better for them to have a vote? Maybe not. Think about it, drawing names took all the politics out of the decision, no personal preferences or connections coming into play, no election winners and losers, and no blaming if the person made mistakes afterward.

What is equally interesting is that they only asked who qualified. They didn’t say, “All who qualify and want to, please raise your hand.” Whoever qualified, their names went into the hat. Keep in mind that this appointment would radically alter the life of the one chosen, they were conferring major and life-long responsibility. It seems, they considered the will of God and the need of the body of Christ (the church) as vastly more important than the personal implications for those who qualified. I dare say this is neither lukewarm Jesus-following nor casual church-membership. Makes me think of what Winfield S. Weeden penned, “All to Jesus I surrender, all to him I freely give.”

“And the lot fell to Matthias, …” We are not told how he felt about it. For us, in our culture, in our day how we feel about it is important, so important that it is major criteria in our decision making, in what we are willing or unwilling to do. Maybe, this is why we struggle so often with our lot in life. How do we have to feel about the will of God before it is right? Before we are willing to embrace it? Matthias obviously thought the will of God and the need of Jesus love (the church, Ephesians 5:24) were much more important than his feelings, his fears, his reservations, his preferences, and his plans.

“Joseph, called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus …” the other qualified candidate wasn’t chosen. He had three names; seems like he was better known, maybe more popular. The lot didn’t ask about his feelings either. No word on how he took it, how he felt about it, but we do not hear about any stink following Matthias’ appointment, no jealousy, no bitterness, no complaining. What we do know is that he was willing, that the will of God and Jesus’ church were so important to him that he did not shrink back from what God wanted and the church needed.

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

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“A wise child brings joy to a father; a foolish child brings grief to a mother.”

“The father of godly children has cause for joy. What a pleasure to have children who are wise. So give your father and mother joy! May she who gave you birth be happy.” Proverbs 10:1; 23:24-25 (NLT2)

 My Mama was the mother of five boys. She kept telling us that we were exactly what she wanted, what she’d prayed for. I think she meant it, but I wonder how often she thought, “What in the hesch have I gotten myself into?” Her sister, my second Mama/Aunt, stormed out of our house on more than one occasion, yelling, “This house is nothing but an insane asylum!”

I didn’t think about whether I was bringing joy or grief to her back when she was raising us, but I have done so often since I left home. The verdict is clear, I brought her way too much grief. While she made her life about us, I made my life about me, and in doing so I helped turn her hair gray, added to her wrinkles beyond time, caused her to weep and pray, who knows how often.

Mother’s Day, which was an up and coming kind of thing back then, was a cheap way of easing the conscience. Buy something nice, be nice for a day, go back to the same old the next day. Sounds like cheap religion, doesn’t it? And it is. She was gracious though, acting like she really needed more of the same perfume, although she still had three full bottles on her dresser. But there really isn’t any perfume that can cover the stink we cause in someone’s life, is there? And I, we, stunk up her life, caused her grief instead of being big bottles of joy.

Where we stunk, she was fragrant, where I embraced wrong she chose right, where I pursued sin, she practiced godliness, where I was short-sighted she held on to the long-view.  She didn’t go the cheap route but instead gave us what lasts, what you can’t order on Amazon, what will remain fragrant even when I stink it up. So now, today, the memory of my Mama is a joy to me, a still rushing stream of blessing, although she has been gone for thirty years.

I am still the son of Margarete Frei, the woman who gave birth to me, the Mama who raised me, and it still matters whether or not I conduct myself in ways that are wise, that are selfless, that are godly, that bring her joy, that glorify God and Christ.

“Honor your father and mother” Exodus 20:12, not just for a day but with your life. It is what both pleases God and is rewarded by God.

Happy Mother’s Day. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

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I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:3-6 (NIV)

We got blessed the day Paul and Diana Baker walked into our church. At the time we had no idea just how great a blessing they would turn out to be, but now, years later, we know, and how we thank God.

They had built a beautiful retirement home, presumably to do a lot of bass fishing at Lake McClure and Lake Don Pedro. But I don’t think they ever did all the fishing and retirement stuff they had anticipated. Instead, they became ever more deeply involved in the life and ministry of our church family. The fishing boat got underused and their “free” time got overused in serving Christ and his local church here in Don Pedro. How we have benefited from that selflessness, yet how we thank God for it.

It is kind of surprising they stuck around after the first visit. Two Assemblies of God folks in a Baptist church lead by a German. Talk about being fish out of water. It made us better, this humility, this willingness to give some things up, this lack of insistence for their own comfort zone in order to further the work of and bless the body of Christ here in Don Pedro.  Oh, how we thank for it.

I can’t tell you how many hats they have worn working, serving, and ministering in our midst. I do know this much, there is no way I can juggle as many plates. Maybe it is all Diana’s fault, because, besides all that she did, she unleashed Paul and thus enabled this whirlwind, who became to us and always will be to us, Pastor Paul. How we thank God for that.

God knew what both our church and I personally needed. I sure needed a friend, someone to help carry the load, a brother to I in navigating some of the toughest times in my life and ministry, an encourager to cheer me on when I was far from my best. As such, how I thank God for Paul.

They flew this selling of their house and plan to go traveling under the radar. They knew I, and we would be praying against it with all our might. I think they also knew doing it any other way would be just too hard because this love between us has become a two-way street, or more accurately, a multi-lane major highway. And, how we thank and praise God for that.

To God be all glory. How we love you, Pastor Paul and Diana.

Pastor Hans

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Join the Army, and you will be doing Army things. Join Weight-Watchers, and you will be doing Weight-Watcher things. Join a book club, and you will be reading books. Join bad company, and you will be doing immoral things (1 Corinthians 15:33). Join Jesus, and you will be doing Jesus things. The decision to follow Jesus, to trust him as the Lord (Director) of your life and Savior of your sinful soul, also means you will get involved in what he is doing. “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men,” (Mark 4:19), Jesus told the two Galilean fishermen Peter and Andrew.

  • Jesus didn’t spend a lot of time doing nothing. He didn’t waste any time. He modeled and called his followers to a life completely surrendered to God’s will and activity. “Jesus explained, ‘I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does’” John 5:19 (NLT2).“We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work” John 9:4 (NLT2).

 

  • Jesus told the disciples what he wanted them to be and do. So, we see them preaching, teaching, praying, casting out demons, healing, feeding the hungry, washing and clothing people, taking care of widows and orphans, being generous, serving Christ and each other, caring for and going into the whole world, … “If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him” John 12:26 (NASB). Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” John 20:21 (NIV).

 

  • There is not enough time to do all we want to do and what Jesus tells us to do, one or the other has to give. When Jesus calls you to fish for people you can’t keep fishing for fish. When Jesus sends you to town to get a donkey you can’t put it off until after your favorite TV show (Matthew 21:1-3&6). When Jesus sends you to preach to people you don’t like you can’t go on vacation to Spain instead (Jonah 1). “… I want your will to be done, not mine” Matthew 26:39 (NLT2).“… the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes” Luke 12:42-43 (ESV).

Where is your life, are your activities in conflict with what Jesus is doing, with what he is asking you to be and do? What adjustments do you need to make?

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Somehow, by God’s wisdom and humor, I become Mel’s pastor at the ripe old age of twenty-four. I loved Mel, but it took him some time to love me. He was of the WWII generation and didn’t care much about Krauts. When his wife Aggie-Lou got sick I started to drive him to see her. One day he handed me the keys to pristine 69 Pontiac. He said he didn’t want to use my gas, but the moment we took off in his car for the first time it became clear I was no longer in charge. Mel told me where to go, where to turn, where to park, how fast to go, when to turn on the heater or a/c, what gas station to use, which pump to pull up to, and to make sure to stop pumping at the first click. Good thing I am somewhat patient, and me driving his “baby” meant that he had let this Kraut into his heart. He gave me the wheel, but not the pink-slip.

You can’t seriously follow Jesus and be the leader. The very act of following recognizes that someone else is the leader, is in charge. It is the leader, the one in charge who gets to determine the direction, the route, the stops, the agenda, the timing, and the activity. Jesus left no doubt about who’s the leader, “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him” John 12:26 (ESV). Even if he gives us the keys to the car, he’s still the leader.

With my hands on the steering wheel of Mel’s Pontiac, I had all kinds of thoughts running through my mind, “Let’s see what this four-barreled V-8 under the hood can do?” “Let’s lay down some rubber!” When Mel gave directions I would often think, “That’s the long way!” or, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” When he asked me to turn off the a/c on 105-degree day because he was afraid that the car might overheat, I was flat out flabbergasted, but I turned it off, it was his car I was driving. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV), the Apostle Paul reminded us followers of Jesus even while we have our hands on the steering wheel of our sexuality. Serious followers of Jesus continually acknowledge the Lord and Leadership of Jesus, the Sovereignty of God over their lives, and constantly bear in mind that, The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; …” Psalm 24:1 (NIV), even while we are steering this vehicle, called our life, registered in Jesus’ name.

What do you need to change after reading this pastor’s note?

To God be all glory, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

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The man being interviewed on NPR (National Public Radio) told about a social worker who made both impression and a difference in his life. What he remembered all these later was a simple smile, no words, no particular action, just a genuine, hopeful, affirming smile.

Let me ask you, “Are you capable of a smile?” I know I am.

A lady, a complete stranger, after reading about my younger brother’s suicide in the paper penned a note and sent it to my Mama bringing immense comfort to her.

Let me ask you, “Are you capable of writing a note?” I know I am.

A handful of young teenage boys decided to not spend all of their allowances and earnings on themselves and instead contribute a few dollars each month to fund a poor teenager on a different continent so he could have food an education.

Let me ask you, “Are you capable of spending a few less dollars on yourself each month?” I know I am.

“Are you capable of doing good? I know I am.

“Do you have some skill, some ability, resources, or experiences with which you could bless someone else? I know I do.

Could you make some time, change your plans in order to help someone, encourage someone, or comfort someone? I know I could.

There are few things we need to continually remind ourselves when it comes to doing good.

  • Doing good is not optional if I am serious about following God/Christ.

Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God. 3 John 1:11 (HCSB)

“Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.” 1 Peter 3:10-11 (NIV)

  • I am much more selective in doing good than Christ wants me to be.

“But I (Jesus) say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,” Luke 6:27 (ESV, parenthesis mine)

  •  I can learn to do good like God wants me to.

You (God) are good and do good; teach me your statutes.
Psalm 119:68 (ESV, parenthesis mine)

  •  Doing good and procrastination don’t go together, nor do I have any good excuses not to do good.

Don’t neglect to do what is good and to share, for God is pleased with such sacrifices. Hebrews 13:16 (HCSB)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galatians 6:9-10 (NIV)

  • Doing good can be very tiring, exhausting even, but it is always right and Christlike to do good.

As for the rest of you, dear brothers and sisters, never get tired (grow weary) of doing good. 2 Thessalonians 3:13 (NLT2, parenthesis mine)

 

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

 

 

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