Pastor's Blog

July 2017

Are You Sleeping Enough?

How many of you like to sleep? 

Do you feel like you get enough sleep? 

If you were given the chance, would sleep more than you do right now? 

How much sleep did you get last night? 6 hours? 2 hours? None? 8?

            I believe that as we get older, we value sleep more. We may not get as much sleep or rest as we want, but we can appreciate the rest we get. I read about a year ago that the classic eight hours of sleep may not really be enough for the average adult. Whether or not that’s true, or whether or not you feel like you need more sleep, we agree that sleep is important.

            We need rest for our entire person: soul and body. Have you ever noticed how hard it is to focus on God’s Word when you’re tired? Have you ever noticed how bad your body feels when you haven’t rested in God’s house for a while? That’s because we are not just flesh and bone, we are flesh and bone and spirit. And our whole person—spirit and body—needs rest. Today the Holy Spirit wants you to have the spiritual rest of God’s Sabbath. 

           Jesus invites you to have that rest. He wants you to take his "burden" of perfection on your shoulders and give him your burden of sin, of shame, of guilt, of sadness and feel his love and compassion wash over you. Look at his blood and watch as it flows out of him and covers your sinful life, and pays the price of guilt for you. Let your worries about life, your turmoil, your sadness—whatever takes away your peace—and let it flow onto the shoulders of Christ at the cross, drift in to his tomb, and bet shut away forever. Watch as your Savior rises triumphant from that grave to pronounce you and me and all people forgiven. This is God’s rest. Today, let's rest.

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Shh...I've Got a Secret

In 1942 the United State’s Office of War information coined a phrase that we still use today, “Loose lips might sink ships.” We usually get rid of “might” and just say, “Loose lips sink ships.” The idea was to encourage every US citizen that careless talk might give away information to enemy spies and thus endanger our soldiers. Giving away secrets to the enemy is a bad thing. Giving away secrets in our everyday life is also a bad thing because it could destroy someone’s life. Perhaps a friend confessed a sin to you. If you go blabbing that secret to other people that would not only destroy that person but it would probably destroy the trust and the friendship you had.

Normally revealing secrets is a bad thing. But each one of us has a secret waiting to be revealed. It wasn’t something we came to on our own because it was hidden to us by sin. But the Holy Spirit whispered the secret in your ear when you became a believer: perhaps through a pastor, or through baptism, or through a curious reading of the Bible. The big secret, of course, is that God has saved mankind from their sins. That secret is one worth sharing to other people. 

And that’s what makes us nervous. Sharing the secret isn’t something that’s easy for us. We have a lot of worries about what might happen to us or other people if we share the secret. So Jesus tells us: go ahead share your secret fearlessly and let God do all the worrying.

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The Other Side of the Cross

Standing before Jesus were twelve men who stood to lose it all. Listening to Jesus’ words they were suddenly struck by a blow of reality that told them the stakes were high, the cost great and the work difficult. Jesus spelled it out for them, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34)

He was right, of course. The disciples saw it as they followed Jesus around. They saw Jesus rejected by his own hometown. They saw the Pharisees accuse Jesus of being the devil. They saw Jesus earnestly preaching about the kingdom of heaven and all the people wanted to see was a magic show, “Give us another miracle. Entertain us! Feed us!” Rarely in Jesus’ ministry did he come upon someone who believed. It saddened him deeply. And when Jesus mounted the foal of a donkey on Palm Sunday and road into Jerusalem amid shouts of Hosanna, his disciples saw their master moved to tears as he wept over a people who had rejected him. He longed for them to believe, but they were not willing. And so it was. So it had to be. Jesus drew the sword and let it fall. “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Were those words ringing in the disciples’ ears as Jesus wept over Jerusalem?

Jesus was crucified on the hill called Golgotha. The scene is perhaps very familiar to you: three crosses, Jesus in the middle, people all around. Some people are weeping, others are hurling insults, some look on in amazement. And we look on, too. It is a bittersweet moment because we know it was our sinfulness that put him there. But we also know that his suffering has taken away our suffering. But one thing that sometimes escapes our notice is what lies on the other side of the cross. John chapter 19, “At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid.” That new tomb is where Jesus’ body was laid. And three days later he rose. Three days later we see an empty cross, and beyond it, an empty tomb.

That’s a nice picture for how we bear the difficulty of following Jesus. When Jesus carried his cross up to Golgotha he knew that through that severe trial he would pay the price for sin. And he also knew that on the other side of the cross there would be an empty tomb. He would be victorious over sin and death and Satan. As we carry our crosses, we look for the blessings which lie on the other side. On the other side of the cross is a garden and in the garden is an empty tomb. We take up our crosses and we follow Christ. We follow Christ into the garden and right into the empty tomb and right into eternal life. As Christ rose so we too will rise and step into paradise. Because on the other side of the cross is the reward of faith. On the other side of the cross is the crown of life. 

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Delivering Compassion

So you’re coming home. As you turn into your driveway, your eye catches something in the front door. It’s a package. What could it be? Who is it from? Or maybe you know what’s inside because you’ve been waiting for its arrival. Now with Amazon delivering so many packages to people’s homes, I don’t know if getting a package is as exciting as it used to be, but it’s still fun. I can remember getting Grandma’s Christmas box each year. Each year there would be something that she sewed for me and my sister, there would be a toy or two, and good old fashioned Wisconsin string cheese. But of course the package delivered from Grandma wasn’t about toys, or clothes or cheese; it was about her love, delivered in a box to our home.

Why are there pastors? Why are there Christian teachers in schools, childcares and Sunday schools? It’s because you want to learn what the Bible teaches. It’s because you need examples of what the Christian life looks like. But those things are worthless if your ministers—whether they are pastors or teachers—don’t deliver the most important thing: the love and compassion of God. The ministry is filled with people who are delivering compassion. And that's something we should look forward to all the time.

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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