Pastor's Blog

August 2018

Well, What did you Expect?

We’ve all been disillusioned somewhere along the way. This is that disappointment we feel when that person whom we thought was better, was acting outside of our expectations. Maybe it happened the first time you saw your pastor drinking a beer. Or maybe it was when you realized that your parents weren’t perfect. These are memories we have from our childhood usually, so it doesn’t take us long to realize that people aren’t as good as we expect them to be. But for some reason we still set ourselves up for disillusionment. For instance, we put all our political hopes into one candidate only to see that he or she is the political equivalent of a dead tree. Whoops. Let’s hope that one doesn’t come back to haunt us.

But who could ever be disillusioned with Christ? I mean if there was ever a guy who delivered on what he said, it was him. If there was ever a guy who could meet our expectations and even exceed them—he’s the one. But you see it all depends on exactly what your expectations are. If Jesus doesn’t meet those, then what happens? If following Jesus becomes unpleasant and hard, then what happens?

Now we see. Now we see. It can be hard to follow Jesus. It is hard to follow Jesus. It can be unpleasant to follow Jesus. Sometimes, it is unpleasant to follow Jesus. Disillusioned? Disappointed? Disheartened? Should we just give it up? I don’t think so. In fact, I think Jesus has something to say about this. Don’t go, but follow. Follow Christ because he gives us the spiritual message and puts a bold confession on our lips. There is no disillusionment when we follow Christ. We just need to have the right expectations.

John 6:67-69, "'You do not want to leave too, do you?' Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.'"

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Wise Up!

“You’re ignorance is showing,” she said. With the arrogance that comes so naturally to a teenager, I had been pontificating about something or other. And the older mother who was there with me just matter-of-factly stated, “you’re ignorance is showing.” It stopped me cold. I had been so convinced of what I was saying, so sure of it. And then—bam!—back to reality. Wise up!

Does our ignorance ever show as Christians? Yeah, it does. Someone once said, “If you want to find a hypocrite, just ask what they do on Sunday afternoon.” Ouch! Now that’s probably an exaggeration, but the point is clear. Are we living consistently with our faith? Or do we say one thing to God and another thing to the people of the world?

We need to wise up, we’re Christians after all! And as Christians, we have the wisdom of God laid out before us in the Word of God. And when we connect to that wisdom we wise up and our faith shows up. 

St. Paul put it this way in Ephesians 5:15-17, "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is."

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The Gift of the Impossible

Standing in her boss’s office with hands planted on the edge of his desk she looked him straight in the eye and said, “You’re asking for the impossible!” And she stormed out of her boss’s office. It wasn’t so much the task that got her upset, but it was the timeline. Her boss just didn’t understand that this project took much longer than what he was giving her. Once again she was being put into an impossible situation.

But this time it was different and had she not stormed out of her boss’s office, she would have realized that. Sitting back at her desk an e-mail was waiting for her from her boss, subject line: Our meeting. She dreaded opening it up fearing that she was going to be asked back in to be fired. But the e-mail was simple enough, “I’ve seen how hard this task is to complete within the timeframe so I’ve assigned two other people to assist you.”

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been in that lady’s shoes. Only it’s not our boss’s office we stand in, it’s the throne room of God. Just look at the demands he makes of us, “Be imitators of God. Get rid of all anger and bitterness.” I know I haven’t lived up to that standard. I can get pretty angry and I sure don’t imitate God very well. God commands that we believe in some pretty unreasonable things like a man rising from the dead or that every word in this Bible is exactly what God wanted written down. Our minds come up with plenty of reasonable excuses to these things. We say to God, “You want us to believe the impossible.”

Jesus quoted the prophets in John 6:45, "It is written in the prohets, 'They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who listens to the Fatehr and laerns from him comes to me." It is precicesly because the task is impossible that we are taught by God. This is why God does all the work of drawing us to himself through his message and focusing us is on the One who came down from heaven. Then God can give us what God commands: faith to believe and to do the impossible.

If you enjoyed this blog, share it with your friends and help spread the message of Jesus!

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What the Mist Can Never Give Jesus Does

A while back the insurance company, Allstate, ran an ad picturing a family gathered around the dining room table playing a board game. The family is on a tighter budget now and instead of going out and spending money at the movies, they’re staying home. In fact, the commercial seems to imply, maybe they never needed to spend the money at the movies in the first place to be happy. All they needed was to spend time with each other.

We know that nothing on this earth lasts—nothing. But the irony is that most of us spend our precious time and resources on the very things that won’t last. We spend big bucks on homes that will fall apart, on careers that can change in a snap, and on people or causes that change over time. The apostle James put things into perspective when he said, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:14)

If this is the state of things, then how should we be living our lives? With what kind of an attitude should we seek our Savior? Perhaps we have pursued a relationship with Christ out of purely selfish motives? Perhaps we have treated him like a kind of spiritual ATM, just push the right Jesus-buttons and he’ll bless us with what our stomachs desire. But those desires don’t last, and we’re off to the next thing. If all of this stuff on earth doesn’t endure, than what does? If we are a mist that appears and then goes, what should we be focusing on? Seek what endures: worldly things spoil and slip away, but Christ gives us eternal life. Seek that.

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Bread to Share

Where does a Christian buy bread? The question today has nothing to do with where we shop. It has nothing to do with real bread and nothing to do with the money in your wallet that you might spend on bread. Today’s question is really a challenge from Christ. Christ is challenging us to once again look beyond ourselves. Christ is challenging us to put our faith into action. Christ is challenging us to provide the spiritual nourishment that people need. Last week we talked about sharing Christ’s compassion and his compassionate message. Today we talk about a test that Christ gave to his disciples when they were faced with thousands of hungry people and he asked them, “Where are we going to buy bread for these people to eat?”

The only answer to Christ’s test is Christ himself. He alone had the power to help those people and he alone has the power to help us. His was the power over sin: the power to keep the requirements of the law perfectly; the power to keep his heart and his mind and his intellect pure. His was the power to take his perfect life, his perfect body, his perfect soul and put it up on the altar of the cross as the perfect sacrifice for sin. His was the power to die, to absorb the energy of God’s wrath over sin. His was the power to take your place and my place and die for us. And his was the power to raise his dead body back to life, something no one would have ever imagined or deemed possible. But Christ did it because he has the power.

The same power to take a handful of bread and make it feed thousands of people, is the power of Christ to triumph over sin and death. The same power that filled the stomachs of those people fills our souls with the love and forgiveness of God. So Christ’s death becomes our life. Christ’s triumph becomes our victory. Christ’s perfection becomes our new life and mind. Christ’s reward becomes our eternal treasure.

And so Christ’s asks you, dear Christian, “Where will we get bread to feed all these people? How will you serve the people in your life?” And you will answer, “Lord, if I’m going to provide for these people, then you’re going to have to give me bread to share?"

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Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. ~ HEBREWS 12:2 (NIV)