Pastor's Blog

October 2018

All Those Little Things

All those little things. Let's see...

  • Take out the trash
  • Convince child to do homework
  • Clean house
  • Settle argument with spouse
  • Get oil changed
  • Visit mother in the hospital
  • Relax?

All those little things sure add up to a whole lot of work, stress and anxiety. It seems a day can be made up of a whole lot of little things that, when taken together, become huge. We have a few options: we can tackle them one at a time until they're all done, no matter how long it takes and how much sleep we lose. Or, we can neglect some of them until we can get to them.

Neither of those sound like great options. Of course, there's a whole world of organizational science to help us through the maze of little things. Lot's of that is really great stuff and is a big help. 

But that doesn't fix the spiritual impact of all these little things. They can and do gnaw away at the soul.

That's where a blind man from the Bible can help. Here's a man who was blind, yet he could "see" just fine. And his blindness was no little thing, obviously. But when he found out that Jesus was coming, he got pretty excited. He knew who his Savior was and how his Savior could help him. So he cried out to him, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me." (Mark 10:47) 

And within that there is a lesson and a comfort for us all. This blind man reminds us that all of our troubles lead us to our Savior. All these little things that can gnaw away at our soul remind us that we need a Savior for our soul, that we can't do it all on our own. "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Have mercy on my troubled family. Have mercy on my troubled soul.

And his answer: Go, your faith has healed you. (Mark 10:52) Through faith all the "little" things that Jesus did (little in the sense of not really impressing the world)--his perfect life, his death on the cross, his resurrection from the dead--all these things add up to peace for the soul and eternal life where the little things from this world of sin will hardly be a memory.

Now to get back to my list...



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Get it Done, God's Way

I’ve always been a very ambitious person. For example, early on, God put it into my heart to be a pastor. I remember growing up, Pastor Henning, standing up in front of the congregation in his black robe, speaking the words of the liturgy with authority: “I said I will my confess my transgressions unto the Lord!” And I knew, “That’s what I wanted to do.” And one day, coming out of church, I grabbed Pastor Henning’s hand and declared to him in front of my mother and the entire church, “Pastor Henning, when you die, I’m going to have your job!” If my mother could have sunk into the tile floor she would have! Ambitious, wouldn’t you say?

We have all kinds of ambitions: some career, some achievement, some improvement in our life. But what is it that drives you to get it done? For most of us, we would have say that our motives are not always in line with God’s. It’s not that God doesn’t want us to accomplish things, but he wants us to do it for the right reason. Do you have something you want to accomplish in your life, in this day, in this year? Get it done—God’s way. 

Jesus gives us this encouragement for getting things done God's way, "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:45

 



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Your Impossible....Possible!

Outside in the hallway, he sat on a lonely bench with his head in his hands. “How could I not be good enough,” he kept asking himself. How was this possible? He was qualified he had perfect references. How could they tell him he wasn’t good enough?

It’s a tragedy played out in the lives of people every day. People who worked hard, who set high standards for themselves, and achieved great personal goals, only to see that all their preparation and all their anticipation was useless because the decision was, “You’re not good enough.”

How tragic it is to hear those words! How tragic it is to be told by a friend that you haven’t been good enough, or to be told by a child or a sibling that you didn’t measure up. It’s the kind of thing that destroys confidence, the kind of thing that drives a person to depression and the kind of thing that makes achieving goals seem trivial. Why bother trying if I’ll never be good enough?

We could say that our lives are often caught up in trying to impress. Whether it’s the young woman who, because her father gave away very little of his love to her, dresses to gain the attention of the opposite gender, or it’s the young college graduate who works 70 hour weeks because he’s in competition with 10 others for the same solitary promotion, we often live our lives to impress others. It’s this natural inclination we have to hold up our credentials before the world, to prove to them that we are indeed good enough, that we are worthy to be called “successful.” It’s the American dream.

And God says, “you’ve got to do better.” God demands more. He demands more offerings, “But I’m on a fixed income.” God demands more time, “But I already volunteer.” God demands more mission work, “But I’m already sharing my faith.” Friends, it’s not good enough. You’re not good enough. And Jesus looks you and me straight in the eye, he stares into the depths our hearts and declares, “Children, it is a hard thing to get into God’s kingdom! It would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of needle.”

Wow.

With man, this is impossible. But not with God. With God there is a possible impossible. It starts and ends with Christ. When we realize that we can’t do it on our own, then we are right where God wants us to be. When we realize that our superficial definition of goodness doesn’t pass muster, then we understand our predicament and God can save us. If God is to rescue us, we must be ones who need to be rescued. Understand that when we focus on our own efforts, our own work, we cannot be saved. It is only when we despair of ourselves, when we throw our hands up in the air and say with the disciples, “Then who can be saved!” that Christ can come to our aid.

And then what is impossible for us becomes possible.



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Boys and Girls, it's time to play nice

If you’ve ever met with a group of friends to play a game that involves teams, you know that you’ve got to divide everyone up. So what do you do? Well there are a lot of ways to make teams, but I bet what you probably do is: boys versus girls, right? It’s that old contest: who’s better the boys or the girls. I would like to submit to you today that when we do that, we are admitting something about our natural state of sinfulness: boys and girls don’t always want to play nicely together. Now I’m not saying teams of boys vs. girls are wrong, I’m saying I think it illustrates a portion of our human nature.

Of course, God never intended life to be “boys vs. girls.” God intended boys and girls to help one another, to partner together. God intended boys and girls to marry and become not just friends, but intimate companions in this world whose relationship would form the foundation of society. What God says about boys and girls is that he made them to be each other’s companions and not just companions but as husband and wife, intimate companions.

Genesis 2:24, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh."

So it’s not boys vs. girls, is it? It’s boys for girls and girls for boys; husbands for wives and wives for husbands. God’s will is that we be each other’s companions and as married companions to share that intimate bond with one another.

And it is possible because God has established his intimate companionship with you and me first through Jesus Christ.



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Service that Makes God Smile

If God published a newspaper, what would be his headlines? I think you and I might be a little surprised, because what interests God would never interest the publisher of the Journal-Sentinal (our Milwaukee rag) or any other newspaper, for that matter. God’s interests lie in the heart of man. He’s interested in why people serve him. And when people serve him simply because they love him, that becomes a major headline in God’s newspaper: Husband Helps Wife Wash Dishes After Dinner, Eighth-Grader Studies for History Test, Teenage Boy Helps Friend, Stranger Says Thank-You to Store Clerk, Mother Changes Baby’s Diaper for Hundredth Time. These would be the headlines in God’s newspaper. Stories about Christians who just can’t stop serving their Lord and serving the Lord in the most routine and ordinary ways.

These are God’s stories about you and me, stories about our faithful service. Don’t stop serving. Instead, serve in many ways, and serve in the world.

Jesus says in Mark 9, "Anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward."



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Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. ~ 1 PETER 3:8