Sunday, December 15, 2013

Are you willing to take refuge in God?

2 Samuel 22:26-31  --  "To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd.  You save the humble, but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low.  You are my lamp, O LORD; the LORD turns my darkness into light.  With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall. " As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.”

Are you willing to take refuge in God or are you still going it alone?
It’s lonely isn’t it?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving – Having everything yet having nothing at all
Matthew 11:28-30 says "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
It has been another successful but trying harvest in Western Minnesota.  In Renville County, 25% of the sugar beets had to be left in the ground.  No matter the problems, blessings and “good harvest”, it is hard for a farmer to leave crop in the field.  The thought of it wearies us in the midst of plenty.
As we gather for Thanksgiving, the table may have the biggest turkey, the best potatoes and the sweetest pie.  Yes, it is a good year.   If for a moment pride fills our heart at “our” accomplishments, we would do well to pause awhile.  Jesus came to the world (Advent), went to the cross and rose from the dead (Easter) so we could give Him our burdens, weary bodies, pain and nagging fears.
Yes, He says in Matthew 11:29 that we can “find rest for our souls.”  What is rest for our souls?  It is peace with God through Christ, assurance of faith in Christ, and hope for tomorrow.  It is all a gift and it is all in His hands.  He has blessed us.  He has.
But even if we have the largest family gathering in town, the largest turkey and the sweetest pies but if we do not have internal peace with God and ourselves, or in Jesus’ words, “rest for our weary souls.”  You know what we have?  We have nothing!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

God uses unschooled ordinary men and women

Acts 4:8-20 – Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: "Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 He is " 'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone. ' 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." 13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16 "What are we going to do with these men?" they asked. "Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name." 18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. 20 For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."

I was in a local Danube area Bible study when a man told me I had to witness to a man he knew.  This incident occurred not long after we returned back to the farm.  I did not know Bubba yet and my friend felt he would be a candidate for the truth and love of Christ.  I said to him, “Since you know him, why don’t you witness to him?”  He replied, “That’s for you ‘Preacher types.’  I’m just an ordinary man.”

God uses ordinary men.  Do you know why?   It is so the world cannot say it is our superior intellect or training that saves us and if “anything good” comes out of our life, it is obvious that it is a work of the Spirit.  It is a working of God.

Are you willing to learn about God from a carpenter from Nazareth with roughhewn hands and simple clothes?  Are you willing to learn from the PhD or PhD’s?

You see, God uses us all to bring Himself glory!  But are you out there where you can be used or are you hiding out in the “I’m ok, I have arrived and I’m not going out into the world” frame of mind?  If you wonder why I know all about it, it’s because I too like to be comfortable but we are not called to be comfortable but we are call to be witnesses to be obedient to the commands of Christ.  We are called to be hope, salt and light to a hurting world.

You know what God does with self-consumed, inwardly proud Christians?  He renders them useless.  (Luke 1:51 – “He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.  When we are scattered, we are ineffective.  That is why so called churches are dead—because we are proud in our own inmost thoughts and God has scattered us.  (Remember the Tower of Babel.)

Have you been with Jesus or are you comfortable hiding out in your own private world while people slide into hell?

Friday, November 15, 2013

The people need a shepherd—

How a Little Makes a Big Difference


Recently I visited with a Christian businessman whom I had not seen for many years.  I asked him what concerns he has for the church.  He replied, “The people are not being shepherded.”   I agree.  Pastors are busy; they can’t do everything.  The Elders and Deacons need to step up.  We Christians need to step up!

This week I was asked to address the student body and community at Renville County West School in Renville for their Veteran’s Day program.   I spoke before a large gathering of school children and towns people.  The event was sponsored by the RCW School’s Student Council and it was an excellent program.

Later in the day, I attended a program at the large nursing home facility in Renville.  In attendance were eleven World War II and Korean War Veterans, including one woman veteran who served in Europe during World War II.  It was a special and very moving service. 

As I came to the nursing home facility, I met a mother with a young son, possibly six years old.  I recognized them from the program at school earlier in the morning.  The mother said to me, “My son wants to meet you.”  I bent over and shook his hand and we visited a bit.  He did not say much but had tears in his eyes.  His Mom explained that the boy’s grandpa, a Viet Nam veteran, with whom he was very close, had died of pancreatic cancer within the past six months.  The loss of his grandpa has been hard on this little boy.

I missed an opportunity that day.  I will look up this mom and her son and tell them I have room in my life for an adopted grandson.  Yes, I need an adopted grandson and he needs a grandpa.  The vision of this young boy with tears in his eyes, tears for his dear grandpa, left an aching hole in my heart.

I realized I need to be a shepherd among the people, young and old alike.  What’s sad is that I realized how little effort could make a difference in this boy’s life.  Yes, what we do to the least of these will be remembered.

Let’s quit talking and start being shepherds among all the people.  Christ with us.


Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Who is your master?

In church on Sunday, this question was presented to us.  It got me thinking about what masters my life.  There are so many things that are competing for our time and attention.  I've been convicted and pray that my true Master becomes the master of my entire life.  I'm sure each one of you can identify something that is trying to master your life.  Here is a small list of things I've thought about.

Who is your master?
  • me or my calendar
  • me or my phone
  • me or my computer
  • me or television
  • me or my house
  • me or my work
  • me or sports
  • me or food
With God's help, we can overcome being a slave to those things that are trying to master our lives.

2 Peter 2:19b says:  "a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him."


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Simple Servanthood

This summer we had the privilege of revisiting a church in Western Minnesota.  The first person to greet us that morning was David, a gentleman in an electric wheelchair.  Then Ruth came, a bubbly little lady who normally greets us upon arrival at this church.  She welcomed us by name and asked if we’d like a cup of coffee.  While Ruth went for our coffee, David told us that he lived close to the church and is so happy that he is able to just “scoot” over those couple of blocks for services.

When Ruth bustled back with our coffee, she proceeded to tell us how she and David met.  One day David came into the store where Ruth works.  They visited a bit when Ruth noticed that David’s shoes were untied.  She asked if he would mind if she tied his shoes and then squatted down to do just that.  As she was getting up, David asked “Where do you go to church?”   From that point on, David has been “wheeling” to Ruth’s church every Sunday.  

Look how that small gesture on Ruth’s part made a great impact on David; he recognized that she was different--she was being a servant.  Help me to be respond to "every opportunity."  We do not have to do any grandiose deeds to proclaim God’s love to others.  It may even just be tying someone's shoes, giving a kind word or a smile to shows a person that you care—and so does God!

Colossians 4:5-6 says:  Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”


Saturday, October 19, 2013


2 Corinthian 4:13-18 – “It is written: "I believed; therefore I have spoken." With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

I have run into a lot of people who are afraid.  Not all fear is bad; fear motivates us to do certain good things (i.e. fear of the cold motivates us to chop wood).  It says in Proverbs 1:7 that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

People are afraid of a lot of things.  I checked lists on the internet and talked to people and I believe our overriding fear today is the “fear of living”.  With the advent of easy and accessible, abundant minutia and trivial information, we are worried and afraid of everything.  We are raking leaves wearing protective helmets—come on!

Do you travel anywhere without your cell phone?  If you did, how would you feel?  How did we travel before?  I am not against cell phones but in many ways it makes us “worry warts.”  Studies on the internet tell us it is healthy to eat nuts…wait, wait here is another study that says don’t eat nuts!  We twist in the wind.  Which way is it?  Should I eat nuts or shouldn’t I eat nuts?  Don’t worry, we’re all nuts so who cares?

We will have adversity in this life.  We are fearful when we have a lot of decisions to make; sometimes we will make proper decisions, other times not. Guess what, fear is a normal part of life.  Go forward, get involved, pursue a mighty calling, do a simple act of love—whatever.  Our joys will be mingled with tears, laughter, and pain.  Don’t live a fearful, shriveled life. 

Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."

Be alive—dance; God is with us.