Friday, December 31, 2010

A blot on the name of Olivia, Minnesota

I live ten miles from Olivia, Minnesota. During the last week, Olivia has been in the news due to the death of a little 19 month old girl, beaten to death by her Mom’s 19 year old boyfriend. As one person said, “This incident is a blot upon our town’s name.” I say, “It should be.”

In Luke 18:9-14 it says: “To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

This part of scripture has much to teach us. One point which has convicted me was the Pharisee (“a member of a Jewish sect of the intertestamental period noted for strict observance of rites and ceremonies of the written law and for insistence on the validity of their own oral traditions concerning the law”) was quick to condemn the actions of the publican (“a Jewish tax collector for the ancient Romans”) and showed no concern for the publican’s salvation. The Pharisee’s prayer was pretty much a blow-hard exposition on his self-righteous deeds.

I visited with some people in the community about the death of the little baby; no one seemed to know who the baby was. Someone said, “It was Hispanic.” Then another replied, “Oh, one of those.” No more was said. Yes, we barely flinch when it’s “one of them” that dies. I guess the Hispanics (or anyone else who is different from us for that matter) are the modern day publicans. We, as believers, become uncomfortably quiet (myself included) when a Hispanic baby dies a violent death.

Do we honestly show any love and concern for our Hispanic brothers or sisters? Are we truly concerned about their salvation? Or are we modern day Pharisees, regarding them in some way less than us? Are we self-centered like the Pharisee whose prayer is only about him blowing smoke about himself?

I believe we are guilty. How sad.

Lord Jesus, help us, wake us up, convict us of our sin of indifference towards all our brothers and sisters Hispanic or others. If the violent death of a 19 month old baby won’t wake us up, what will?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Living In-Between 1st and 2nd

“Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”  Hebrews 9:27-28

In baseball, it is not a good thing to be caught between 1st and 2nd. A quick decision must be made; do I go to second base or scoot back to first base and hopefully be ruled “safe”. I am not really concerned about baseball but it could make for an interesting analogy.

Today we live between the first and second advent of Christ. Advent is described as “the arrival of an event that has long been awaited with expectation.” We live between His birth (First Advent) and His 2nd coming (Second Advent).

As Christians, do we spend too much time on the baby Jesus and not enough time on our reigning champion Jesus who has completed His work and is coming again? He is coming not to suffer but to gather His own unto Himself. How are you waiting for His return; in childish fear or in joyful expectation of the returning Christ?

This Christmas let us rise in the power of the risen Savior and wait with courage for His expected return. Let’s wait with purpose and urgency to reach as many as we can with His message of hope, being made right with the eternal God.

How are you going to live the rest of your life—in fear or joyful expectation? The choice is yours; accept His gift, the gift of being His chosen one.

May God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit bless you this Christmas Season. May His army (us) wait in peace, ready for battle to do His work.

Let us arise from kneeling by the empty manger, seeing the empty cross, believing in the power of God’s resurrection, the empty tomb, and wait for the Father’s command to His Son Jesus to “go and gather my own.” Yes, then we will be safe on second. Right with God through eternity, all brought about by the life, suffering, death, and resurrection of God’s one and only Son Jesus. This is what we should celebrate this Christmas Season.

Come quickly Lord Jesus, come. Come and take your children home and we will be with You for eternity.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Praising God for what we have

My brother is in Abbott Hospital in Minneapolis fighting a very tough brain cancer. The intensity of the battle has taken another step higher—Jim now has an unknown form of pneumonia.  He is in the fight of his life.

Someone told me this week that “Jim is too young to die;” he is 70. I suppose he could be considered too young; none of us want to die but the Lord determines our day to be born and our day to die.

As it says in Ecclesiastes 3:1-14:

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:  a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,  a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,  a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,  a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,  a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,  a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,  a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.  What does the worker gain from his toil?  I have seen the burden God has laid on men.  He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.  That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil--this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him."
Carol, Jim’s wife of almost 50 years, was returning to the hotel late one night. Tired, lonely and battling to keep her spirits up for Jim and the kids, she encountered a couple at the hotel. The couple has a 13 year old daughter in Abbot with an inoperable brain tumor.

Carol said, “How sad, she is only 13, hasn’t even lived her life.” It was at that point that Carol was reminded that Jim has had 70 years of life and a good life at that. Carol said to me the next morning, “We must always be thankful for what we have rather than complain about what we do not have.”

We want Jim to live; we entrust his life and care to God’s hands. We thank you Lord for 70 years. May the young girl with the brain tumor experience the same.

Thank you, Jesus. Amen

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Gold Cannot Save or One Too Many Gold Commercials

The TV commercials to buy gold pound on us; I should do a survey to see what percentage of advertisements are for the purpose to encourage us to buy gold and silver. Precious metals have seen a spectacular rise over the last ten years. It has been an excellent investment but it cannot save. No, it cannot save. We are to be wise stewards of God’s blessing upon us but God will save us, through His Son. Our gold and silver will not save us.

Ezekiel 7:19 says: “They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be treated as a thing unclean. Their silver and gold will not be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD’s wrath. It will not satisfy their hunger or fill their stomachs, for it has caused them to stumble into sin.” Our gold cannot save us from the wrath of the Lord.

Without Christ we will stand in the street full of terror; our knees will be like water. (Ezekiel 7:17: “Every hand will go limp”), in shame and horror. Our gold and silver will lie at our feet as detestable.

Our love for gold and silver will be the stumbling block, concerning our sin. We want to grab a hold of all we can get in this life, hoping in gold, not in Christ.

In these last days, let’s be good stewards of God’s blessing. We must come to Christ; He alone is our hope. The love of this world, the love of stuff, can be the stumbling block concerning our coming to Christ for forgiveness. Without Christ, the picture is very sobering.

Trust God, not gold. Trust the one who holds the future. His name is Jesus Christ.

Read Ezekiel 7:14-27 from The Message:

14 'The trumpet signals the call to battle: "Present arms!" But no one marches into battle. My wrath has them paralyzed! 15 On the open roads you're killed, or else you go home and die of hunger and disease. Either get murdered out in the country or die of sickness or hunger in town. 16 Survivors run for the hills. They moan like doves in the valleys, Each one moaning for his own sins. 17 "'Every hand hangs limp, every knee turns to rubber. 18 They dress in rough burlap - sorry scarecrows, Shifty and shamefaced, with their heads shaved bald. 19 "'They throw their money into the gutters. Their hard-earned cash stinks like garbage. They find that it won't buy a thing they either want or need on Judgment Day. They tripped on money and fell into sin. 20 Proud and pretentious with their jewels, they deck out their vile and vulgar no-gods in finery. I'll make those god-obscenities a stench in their nostrils. 21 I'll give away their religious junk - strangers will pick it up for free, the godless spit on it and make jokes. 22 I'll turn my face so I won't have to look as my treasured place and people are violated, As violent strangers walk in and desecrate place and people - 23 A bloody massacre, as crime and violence fill the city. 24 I'll bring in the dregs of humanity to move into their houses. I'll put a stop to the boasting and strutting of the high-and-mighty, And see to it that there'll be nothing holy left in their holy places. 25 Catastrophe descends. They look for peace, but there's no peace to be found - 26 Disaster on the heels of disaster, one rumor after another. They clamor for the prophet to tell them what's up, but nobody knows anything. Priests don't have a clue; the elders don't know what to say. 27 The king holds his head in despair; the prince is devastated. The common people are paralyzed. Gripped by fear, they can't move. I'll deal with them where they are, judge them on their terms. They'll know that I am God.'"

Friday, December 03, 2010

Shopping in Willmar or Poor in the Midst of Great Possessions

On an early Thursday afternoon, Judi and I had business in Willmar. Judi had some shoes that needed to be returned to the store so I sat and waited while she transacted business.

A woman, I estimated to be in her late 70’s, sat down beside me with a sigh of relief. “I sure can’t shop like I used to” she said. “Yes, there was a day when I could shop from morning to night; now I must stop and rest.” She turned out to be an agitated woman and somewhat bitter about life. I watched all the shoppers; most had a furrowed brow; most did not look happy. Am I, as a Christian, happy? Do I understand how God has blessed me?

My mind came back to a devotional entitled, “Poor in the Midst of Great Possessions.” This is my rough translation of the work of German theologian Dr. Heinrich Muller. He was a local pastor who understood the plight of his people. It is from his book, “The Hour of Refreshing.”  I quote with a rough translation:
“This is said of the miserly, and it is true. Poverty and riches are in the mind. He who wishes for nothing more is rich; and he who is always wanting something is poor. I have what I do not desire; and that which I am always longing for is lacking to me. The miser never says he has enough. He is poor in the midst of wealth, because he has what he has as though he had it not. The only benefit he derives from “his stuff” is looking at it, and anyone can do that, even the poorest. It is not forbidden for me to look at the possessions of others, but I cannot take any of them, for they are not mine. The miser will not touch his own because gold is his god. Thus the miser gets no more out of his own than I do of others’ possessions. He is so poor that he has not even himself. He may be compared to a spider who spins her own web out of her own bowels; so the miser consumes and kills himself in caring for his life. What good does wealth do to a man if he be not allowed to partake of it?”
“It suits the Christian better to be poor in the midst of great possessions. He does not consider it right to pamper his body, but uses what he has in moderation. Therefore, he may be looked upon as poor, although he may be rich. And where is the poor man whose daily necessities are not supplied? God always gives a bit of bread, often in a wonderful manner, and in a way man would never dream of. Do not ascribe your riches to your own cleverness or industry, but look upon them as a gift from the bountiful hand of thy God, which has been given in answer to your unceasing prayers; so you are in reality as poor as the beggar who daily goes from door to door to collect alms. We need to look upon our means as a loan, over which God has not appointed us lord, but only steward, so that we may give to the poor—therefore we are poor in the midst of great wealth, for who can be poorer than he who has nothing of his own? We have not set our heart on what we have, but are ready, when God wills it, to deliver it up. If we meet with losses, we do not lose courage, but are content, saying with Job, in true humility and resignation, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). So we are poor, although possessed of great riches. Temporal possessions are injurious to no man’s soul, unless the heart hangs unto them.”

I would like to summarize a statement by A.W. Tozer; “We can have everything, but we must possess nothing. For the thing we possess, we will love more than God.”

It is all a matter of our heart; yes it is but so hard to do.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Prayer

Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage, we humbly ask that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of your great favor and blessing. May we always be willing to do your will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord and confusion in these days. Save us from pride and arrogance.

Save us from every evil way. Defend our liberties. Fashion us into one grateful and thankful people, even though we have come from many lands.

Fill those with your spirit of wisdom, those in whom we entrust the authority of government. May there be justice and peace at home, and through obedience to your words may we show forth Thy praise to the nations. In this time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness and in the day of peril or suffering may our trust of you, Lord, not waver or fail. You are our only hope.

All we ask through Christ Jesus.   Amen

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Rainbow in the Clouds by John MacDuff

A quoted message from

"When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will be seen in the clouds" Genesis 9:14


"The Lord Reigns." Psalm 93:1

No rainbow of promise in the "dark and cloudy day" shines more radiantly than this. God, my God, the God who gave Jesus, orders all events, and overrules all for my good! "When I," says He, "send clouds over the earth." He has no wish to conceal the hand which shadows for a time earth's brightest prospects. It is He alike who "brings the cloud", who brings us into it, and in mercy leads us through it! His kingdom rules over all. "The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord." He puts the burden on, and keeps it on, and at His own time will remove it!

Beware of brooding over second causes. It is the worst form of atheism! When our most fondly cherished gourds are smitten; our fairest flowers lie withered in our bosom; this is the silencer of all reflections– "The Lord prepared the worm!" When the temple of the soul is smitten with lightning, and its pillars rent: "The Lord is in His holy temple!" Accident, chance, fate, destiny, have no place in the Christian's creed. He is no unpiloted vessel left to the mercy of the storm. "The voice of the Lord is upon the waters!"

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day 2010 – Perilous Days in America

In early October, I realized it had been forty years since I was discharged from the Air Force; a generation ago in Biblical terms. I was 22 years old. Over the years I have learned something: (1) being in the military does not make you a man. It hardens your heart in some ways; softens your hearts in others. Being a man means we have to do things we do not like to do. It’s not a matter of “feeling” it is a matter of leading a principled life.

The second thing it teaches you is that there are two kinds of people the decent and indecent—sinners all. I borrow the names of those two groups from Dr. Victor Frankl, a WWII concentration camp survivor.

Before I went into the service, my social experience was limited to people of Northern European extraction with a sprinkling of Native Americans. In the military I interacted with all groups; among them, I found the decent and the indecent, but sinners all.

I returned from overseas in April 1969. I walked into the San Francisco Airport at 4:45 in the morning to be greeted with cat calls and the occasional rotten fruit being thrown our way. Welcome home American soldier. The war protestors manned the entrance to the terminal 24 hours a day to sling venomous words and the occasional rotten fruit.

Many of the protestors and activists of the 60’s and 70’s have risen to become the ruling elite of our day. Scum does usually rise to the top.

Professor Angelo M. Codevilla, professor emeritus of International relations at Boston University, wrote an article entitled American Ruling Class—and the Perils of Revolution. Many of the bi-partisan ruling class today were subversives of the past and are to this day. They come from both sides of the political isle, Democrat and Republican. The ruling class is the West Coast and East Coast elites and the rest of us are the poor bastards who fight their wars. (Don’t take my word for it, read Professor Codevilla’s well documented article.)

Speaking of our Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), Codevilla said in part:
“After all, Republicans had been happy enough to approve of similar things under Republican administrations. Differences between Bushes, Clintons, and Obamas are of degree, not kind. Moreover, 2009-10 establishment Republicans sought only to modify the government's agenda while showing eagerness to join the Democrats in new grand schemes, if only they were allowed to. Sen. Orrin Hatch continued dreaming of being Ted Kennedy, while Lindsey Graham set aside what is true or false about "global warming" for the sake of getting on the right side of history. No prominent Republican challenged the ruling class's continued claim of superior insight, nor its denigration of the American people as irritable children who must learn their place. The Republican Party did not disparage the ruling class, because most of its officials are or would like to be part of it.”
Yes, they see us as irritable children. Take note:

“Today, few speak well of the ruling class. Not only has it burgeoned in size and pretense, but it also has undertaken wars it has not won, presided over a declining economy and mushrooming debt, made life more expensive, raised taxes, and talked down to the American people. Americans' conviction that the ruling class is as hostile as it is incompetent has solidified. The polls tell us that only about a fifth of Americans trust the government to do the right thing. The rest expect that it will do more harm than good and are no longer afraid to say so.”
Are these the seeds of revolution?

"The two classes have less in common culturally, dislike each other more, and embody ways of life more different from one another than did the 19th century's Northerners and Southerners -- nearly all of whom, as Lincoln reminded them, "prayed to the same God." By contrast, while most Americans pray to the God "who created and doth sustain us," our ruling class prays to itself as "saviors of the planet" and improvers of humanity. Our classes' clash is over "whose country" America is, over what way of life will prevail, over who is to defer to whom about what. The gravity of such divisions points us, as it did Lincoln, to Mark's Gospel: "if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand."

If you want to see how they really feel, Codevilla adds:

“Its attitude is key to understanding our bipartisan ruling class. Its first tenet is that "we" are the best and brightest while the rest of Americans are retrograde, racist, and dysfunctional unless properly constrained. How did this replace the Founding generation's paradigm that "all men are created equal"?
In light of all of this, “what did we fight for?” If we think the Republicans or the Democrats are going to save our country from this peril, wake up. Almighty God himself is our only hope.

Pastor Steve Brown says “The world drinks to forget and Christians drink to remember.” I think I’ll get a drink and do a little of both. Remember and forget for these are perilous days in America.

Monday, November 08, 2010

I’ll feed you from a rock…

Psalm 81:11-16 says, "But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. 12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices. 13 "If my people would but listen to me, if Israel would follow my ways, 14 how quickly would I subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes! 15 Those who hate the LORD would cringe before him, and their punishment would last forever. 16 But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you."

Our nation is in trouble. In farm country, we live in the midst of record yields and good commodity prices and yet our country is in trouble. This week the Federal Reserve purchased 600 billion dollars of our own debt—no one else wants to buy it any more.

In the 81st Psalm it tells of a nation who rejects or ignores God’s love. Our nation has been and is blessed by God but we, like Israel, “do not listen” or submit to God (v.11).

God has a limit to His patience. In verse 12 God says if this is the way you want it, you’re on your own. God then shows us the way to come back to Him.
  1. Listen to God (v. 13). Read His word.
   2.  Follow His way (v.13). Put His word into action.

   3.  What will God do? Subdue their enemies (plural) v. 14.

   4.  Those who hate the Lord will cringe before Him—forever. (Can we see the light of Christ in this present momentary darkness?)

Then God blesses His people because we are His -- (just because we are His.) We can’t earn any favor, can’t impress Him with our works; no, He blesses and restores us just because we are His.

In verse 16 God then promises to feed us the finest wheat and honey. To do this, He doesn’t need to crank up the combines to get some wheat. He doesn’t need to search for a hidden honeycomb. If our God has to, He can bring wheat and honey out of a rock.

Remember this, because of the suffering sacrifice of God’s one and only son Jesus, we can come into God’s presence and the resurrected Christ will restore us to our Heavenly Father.
Our stubborn heart is made new, our ears are unplugged, we listen and we put His word into practice. He will subdue our enemies and feed us from a rock.

If this is true, what are we afraid of? We need to humble ourselves before the Mighty God, confess our sins and come to Jesus and live.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fear of Exposure

The Christian life is a walk not a sprint. It is a life-long walk; steady, long, sometimes lonely, sometimes discouraging, other times joyous and exuberant. Sometimes we trudge, other times we walk with purpose and vision.

In 1 John 1:6 it says: “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.”

If we profess to be Christians yet walk in darkness, we are living a lie. If our “Christian walk” consists of name and habit only, we are living a lie. Are we Christian in name only or do we “walk” (or trudge) in the light?

The reason we are reluctant to walk in the light is the fear of exposure. Light reveals truth; it exposes us for who we really are—sinners in need of a savior.

In John 3:20-21 it says: “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."  This “exposure fear” is our fear of other people really seeing us as we truly are; as Luther said, “We are all beggars at the foot of the cross.” We work hard to keep our puffed up image before the world; we live in fear of being found out by the world. If we live by the Light, the world will see that our good deeds are all the result of a transformed life. Walking in the Light transforms us. All this is a gift of God.

The Good News is this: God knows who we are. In His light we are fully exposed yet He is willing and able to forgive and forget our sins. Isaiah 43:25 says, "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

We should have no fear of walking in the light fully exposed. God knows all our sins; He is able and willing to forgive and forget. As for other people seeing us walking fully exposed in the light, it renders us transparent and approachable by a hurting world. Keeping up our inflated image of ourselves distances us from others. Step fully into the light for the time is short. A hurting world needs the Savior and we are His “fully exposed” witnesses.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Addendum to my previous blog

Please click on the above link.  After reading my last blog, a friend shared this site from the Baptist Press.  It's great.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

When Chilean Miners and lepers thank God

Last night I watched the conclusion of the rescue of the 33 Chilean miners. It was a proud moment for Chile and the world. There was much to be proud of; the Chilean government assembled a rescue team that consisted of the best people and the best technology that Chile and the world had to offer.

Watching these men come up, seeing the reunion with their families and fellow workers brought tears to my eyes. As the program concluded, a succession of the actual moments when each of the 33 miners got out of the capsule was shown. As I saw it, only one dropped to his knees and thanked God. This rescue was a miracle from God and only one showed visual appreciation and thankfulness for God’s miracle of deliverance from the bowels of the earth after 69 days. (I do not know the hearts of the others.)

This miner’s actions reminded me of the ten lepers; men whose situations was also desperate and hopeless, and only one came back to thank Jesus for the healing miracle. One out of ten for the lepers and one out of thirty-three for the miners; I guess not much has changed over the last 2000 years…in all things be thankful.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Barbarians at the gate or chariots of fire in the hills; what do you see?

My brother has cancer once again. He is tired; his wife is tired; but he plans to fight.

When we Christians live this life with its trials and tribulations, I ask, what do we see? Do we see the barbarians at the gate (cancer) or do we see the chariots of fire in the hills?

Second Kings 6 relates the story of a war between the King of Aram and the King of Israel. The prophet Elisha, through the power of the Holy Spirit knew everything the King of Aram was going to do. Elisha passed on his God-given insight to the King of Israel who benefited much from the revelations of the Prophet Elisha. King Aram figures out what’s going on and sends his army to capture the prophet Elisha.

Elisha is in the city of Dothan with his assistant. The assistant awakes early in the morning to see the Barbarians at the gate. The city is surrounded and they are looking for his boss, the Prophet Elisha. Concerned, the assistant says, what should we do? Elisha says in 2 Kings 6:16-18 "Don't be afraid," the prophet answered. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them." And Elisha prayed, "O LORD, open his eyes so he may see." Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, "Strike these people with blindness." So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.”

I ask you, what are you facing today? Who and what are the barbarians at your gate? Do not be afraid! Cancer, financial collapse, broken relationships…look to the hills, and by the power of God, see His angels, horses and chariots of fire. Remember, our battle is not with flesh and blood ("For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12)

Even though you feel weak, remember this, the weakest among us does not fight alone.
Do not focus on the barbarians at the gate. Look to the hills, look to heaven from whence your deliverance comes; your deliverance comes from the Lord.

Come quickly Lord Jesus, come. Oh Lord, open my eyes to see your horses and chariots of fire.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Prayers of Desperation

I don’t know where the idea came from that “prayers of desperation” are not “good form” for a believing Christian. One should not get that desperate; we should have our act together so prayers of desperation would not be needed. Tell that to…

• David --“This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.” Psalm 34:6

• Hannah--“In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD.” 1 Samuel 1:10

• Jeremiah—“the waters closed over my head, and I thought I was about to be cut off I called on your name, O LORD, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea: "Do not close your ears to my cry for relief." Lamentations 3:54-56

• Jesus—“And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Luke 22:44

• The Ten Lepers--"and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed.” (Luke 17:13-14) The ten lepers had no other option to be healed; no antibiotics, no Mayo Clinic. Leprosy was a death sentence. They were desperate.

My favorite prayer of desperation was Jonah from the belly of the whale. Jonah 2:7-10 says, “"When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD." And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.”

Jonah prayed, “When my life was ebbing away. I remembered the Lord.” In verse 8 it says this, “Those who cling to worthless idols (things of this life) forfeit the grace that could be theirs… Oh, how true. Verse 9…"salvation comes from the Lord.

Yes, in desperation, God answers. Are you desperate enough? Do you believe God really hears our prayers? He does. Forgive us O Lord.

James 5:13 says,  "Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise."

Friday, September 24, 2010

Living in tents…startled and frightened

Luke 24:36-37 - While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.

My camping experiences in tents have been interesting. (Judi says,"Interesting is a good way to describe it!") I remember standing in a tent filled with two adults and three children holding on to the fragile tent frame while 50 mile per hour winds and rain howled around us. That turned out to be the last time we tented!

Paul says in 2 Corinthians that our earthly bodies are tents; very temporary housing. (“Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.2 Corinthians 5:1.) We look forward to heavenly bodies and a heavenly dwelling place; the world pursues making this tent into a mansion. Face lifts, butt lifts, and other drastic measures are taken to preserve a “tent”. I believe Christians are as confused as the world about our current political, economic, and physical circumstances. We need to remember that they are temporary. We should not be startled or frightened. We look ahead towards the future, towards Heaven, remembering whatever happens, God’s plans are never thwarted. In the midst of this recent chaos, there is “a light” that shines and the Light’s name is Jesus Christ.

Remember our times are in God’s hands. Remember our bodies are a temporary dwelling place (tents). Our vision should be to look towards the eternal. Remember this, the body is sometimes curable; the soul is always so. Yes, we will fold up our tent and go home but our soul is eternal and in this life is always open to be renewed, healed, sustained and forgiven. Don’t be startled or frightened by these days. God is and will always be on the throne. His plans are never thwarted.

On the days when we want to pack up our tent and go home, remember the Lord calls us home. He packs the tents and we are along for the ride.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Why I stay on the farm

"The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place”   Acts 17:24-26 ESV

Recently I read the following and wanted to share it with you.  It is from Harris’ Farmer’s Almanac 2010 (p. 39).

Hardscrabble Life

The full-time country life, with its high maintenance, time-consuming lifestyle, can become a bit overwhelming for the aged or the injured, or those with a growing family. Homesteaders and farmers often give up, thinking the smart thing to do is to move closer to jobs and schools and hospitals. To those who have been doing the same chores morning and night, day in and day out, and driving to town to work, or to shuffle the kids to games and lessons, relocation can look like a good move. Or maybe it is the human condition to wish for an easier life.

So, you put the farm up for sale. Chances are that the new owner will not be someone who will pick up the chores list where you left off. Instead of passing the old home place on to another family who will prune the peach trees and patch the barn roof, more likely he will have it bulldozed, even the row of walnut trees, the apple orchard, and the creek full of watercress. Your new home in town may be next to a house of barking dogs, with street lights as bright as day, bad air, bad water, high utility bills, drunk drivers and aimless people snooping around in the middle of the night. For this you traded away the green hills, the sky full of stars, the hoot owls, the orchard in full bloom, and the porch that looks across the hollow on a lazy summer afternoon.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

“The Gospel According to Jesus: What is Authentic Faith?”

I have recently been reading a book by John Macarthur entitled, “The Gospel According to Jesus: What is Authentic Faith?” published by Zondervan in 1988. The following is a quote from p.35-36 of this book.

“The gospel according to Jesus calls sinners to give up their independence, deny themselves, submit to an alien will, and abandon all rights in order to be owned and controlled by the Lord. By confessing Jesus as Lord (Kurios), we automatically confess that we are His slaves (douloi).

"What does this mean in practical terms? To borrow the words of Edwin Yamauchi,

"It means that we have been captured, beaten, enslaved. We discover, however, that our captor is a Despot of love and mercy. Neither is there anything slavish or servile about our slavehood, for we have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear but the spirit of adoption (Romans 8:15). Nor has our reduction to slavery been a debasement or an abasement…We have been elevated to serve in a heavenly court and have been invested with a higher nature.
"…(It also) reminds us of our ransom from another master at an incredible price. It was not for the fabulous sums of all the royal estates we were bought, nor was it for handsome features or some prized skill we were purchased. But rather unlovely, without any merit, rebellious at heart, we were redeemed with the precious blood of the Master Himself.
"Having thus been bought by Christ we are entirely His. Yamauchi, “Slaves of God.” p.48-49.   There is no other possible way to view it.
"There is no legitimate way to adjust that message to make it sound appealing to people who admire Jesus but are not prepared to serve Him.”

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Giving God what He wants

Are you disillusioned with life? Has it not turned out as you planned? For most of us, our life has not turned out as planned. Life takes many twists and turns. Sometimes we end up where we least expected; that is not necessarily bad.

When we become disillusioned with our life, we are truly at the bottom of the barrel. When we are disillusioned we see no way out—no light, no hope. Usually when we reach the bottom, we are willing to listen and learn.

The story is told of a man hopelessly stuck in the bottom of a deep hole in the ground. Different people walked by and looked in the hole. They told the guy to try harder to get out. Some told him it must be punishment for some past sin. Others just looked and said nothing.

Jesus came along, climbed into the hole and lifted him out. Yes, we like Jesus must be willing to get dirty and humble ourselves to help someone else.

I run into disillusioned people every day. Some have become angry. Anger only eats a hole in our heart and makes us feel impotent (helpless). Some are indifferent; a self-centered response. We don’t care about anyone else. We could care less about anything.

If we are disillusioned with life, the only way out is the Lord Jesus Christ. Buddha is dead; he cannot climb down the hole. Mohamed is dead; he cannot climb down into the hole. The Hindu gods sit quietly on the shelf. The Hindu priests would not get dirty; no, they would not go into the hole.

Jesus came to earth; He came down to us. He became nothing, a microscopic ovum to enter our sinful, hurting world. He did not live in palaces. He was the best friend of lepers and the other down and outs. Yes, the God-man Jesus lived among us and He alone lifted us out of our sin and misery.

If you are at your bottom, simply pray to God the Father through Jesus Christ. Jesus is our advocate, our healer, our savior. What God wants from us is a humble and contrite heart. God wants true repentance; a turning around, a true turning to Jesus and His Father. God doesn’t need us. If God hasn’t given you what you want, I ask, have you given God what He wants? Micah 6:8 says, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Come and tell Him what you want. He is our only hope. Left to ourselves, we are hopelessly lost. Come to Jesus and live. Humble yourself before the one and only Mighty God.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Everyday battles of life—in weakness & strength

She walked into my office early one morning. She said, “Did you hear?” I said, “Yes.” What did I hear? I heard that her husband lost his job again; the division in which he worked was being relocated to Mexico.

About two years ago, her husband held a union job with a prestigious Minneapolis company. They downsized and the 50 year old computer specialist was out of a job. It took one year to find another job. The wage was about 60% of the previous job with minimum benefits. He was now without work again.

The wife was angry and disgusted. She said they feel weak and vulnerable. They admittedly have lived “high on the hog” as it were when life was rolling along. Now things are different, making “ends meet” the ends are not meeting anymore. She asked, “Why does this keep happening to us?”

In 2 Corinthians 12:7 Paul was given a thorn in the flesh, some painful aggravation. Who brought it on? Satan? No, Satan doesn’t rule our lives but God permits him to bring trials into our life to teach us what we need to learn. It hurts but God intends it for our good. God rules each though what he allows may hurt.

Why did Paul get a thorn in the flesh? To keep him from becoming conceited. In 2 Corinthians 12:7 it says: “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.”

God had showed him things about heaven and a paradise that words could not describe. Second Corinthians 12:1-6 says “I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the LORD. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know--God knows. And I know that this man--whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows-- was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say. Paul may have thought he was pretty “hot stuff” but God’s plan was to keep him humble and useful. Thus God allowed the thorn in the flesh.

I see many people hurting today. Hebrews 12:10-12 says: “Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.”

We must pray to be healed. We must not go through these trials as limping victims but be strengthen and healed by God looking at future with hope and purpose.

Oh Lord, this day we pray for your healing and peace in the lives of people suffering weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, difficulties. Even though they are weak, make them strong. Strengthen our drooping arms and feeble knees. Revive our spirit this day; grant us these things if it is your will. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

When the Church Compromises - it has nothing to say

The church’s desire to be “marketable” has come at a great price. In an August 7, 2010, in a New York Times article by G. Jeffrey MacDonald entitled “Congregations Gone Wild,” he talks about clergy burnout, yet MacDonald said the real problem with the church today is how congregations put pressure on pastors to forsake one’s highest calling. Pastors want to “help people grow spiritually, resist their lowest impulses, adopt higher, more compassionate ways” but “church goers increasingly want pastors to soothe and entertain them.”

“Soothe and entertain them,” yes, a hard driving message today may fall on stopped up ears. We do not like to be called to account by pastors or much less be called to account by God’s Word. No, we want Christianity-lite.

David F. Wells wrote a book entitled Above all Earthly Pow’rs - Christ in a post-modern World, published by Wm. B. Erdman Publishing. It says this in part on pg. 314 :

This evangelical version of spirituality, precisely because it has stripped itself of its doctrine – on the fallacious assumption that this doctrine won’t “sell” in today’s marketplace – is the kind of spirituality which has, then, been silenced in today’s culture. It has been silenced in the sense that though its adherents and purveyors may congregate in churches, and though they may sell its benefits and attractions, it remains only one product among many others on the market. It can seduce but it cannot confront. It can lure, but it cannot speak. It is because it has deliberately shed its doctrine, and its discipline, that it can only hold itself out to be taken by those who are the market looking for something to take, but it has left itself devoid of the ability to proclaim. Thus it is that the evangelical churches have made their deal with new generations. The deal, as Barna put it, is that for a one-time confession of weakness, God’s eternal peace can be had. It is a deal in which God has come up on the short end because we get what we want and give up nothing of consequence. That is the inevitable outcome to the marketing of the gospel.

This, of course, cheapens our understanding of God, it demeans the nature of the gospel, and it works havoc in the Church. And what it also does is to leave behind a kind of faith whose central passion is no longer that of truth and goodness. If the Church is not in possession of truth, truth as an understanding that corresponds exactly to what is in reality, and corresponds exactly to what is in the will and the character of God, then it has been left speechless. It has nothing to say. Without this truth, its private insights are no more believable, no more compelling, and no more desirable than anyone else’s. Why, then, has the evangelical Church arranged itself around the marketing dynamic rather than around the truth which it is its birthright to proclaim?
Lord Jesus, revive your Church today. Amen

Thursday, August 05, 2010

When we don’t listen to God

Zechariah 7:12-14 (New International Version):  12 They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the LORD Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the LORD Almighty was very angry.   13 " 'When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,' says the LORD Almighty. 14 'I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations, where they were strangers. The land was left so desolate behind them that no one could come or go. This is how they made the pleasant land desolate.' "

In the last weeks, my heart has been drawn to the Old Testament prophets. As I have found out and most people I speak to have also found out, we don’t like to hear God’s harsh warnings.  

One time when I concluded my sermon someone said “Oh, that’s so Old Testament.” It was, but I have always brought people back to Christ and to grace. The road to Christ and the end of time will be filled with hard times and harsh warnings, yet if we ignore the lessons from the past, we are deceiving ourselves. They were recorded for our benefit whether we like them or not.

1 Corinthians 10:11-12 (New International Version) - "These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! 
The Lord speaks: “When I called, they did not listen, so when they called, I would not listen.” Zechariah 7:13. God is patient and kind but there is a limit to God’s patience. We don’t want to push Him that far. 

If we don’t listen to God, who or what do we listen to?
  1. Each other—sinner in the same boat. 
  2. The world—the world system is of the devil and his ways are cruel and heartless.
  3. Learned men and women—nothing wrong with education, but it does not necessarily make us wise, loving or caring. 
Why not listen to God? He is the Truth and the Light. He loves His creation; He loves us, His people. Why not listen? Because when we don’t get our way we act like spoiled brats, we grumble and complain and stop up our ears. We push God to the limit of His patience and then we have the gall to arrogantly ask why He doesn’t answer our prayers. Sometimes He does; we’re just not listening.  Other times, God would not listen. Meanwhile, as the world goes to hell, we dance in our sin. And this is how we made the pleasant land desolate--ignoring God’s Word.

 Forgive us, Almighty God. Come quickly, Lord Jesus, come. 


Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Ungrateful Cucumber Enthusiast

The garden produce is coming in. As has been our tradition, we bring produce to our office building to be given away. The only produce I had this week was zucchini squash; it is loved by some and despised by others. As one person rummaged through the bag of zucchini, he turned around and stated with disgust, “I need cucumbers.”

It was Monday morning, the hardest morning of the week. Busy and chaotic, the sheen of my “Sunday morning faith” had already begun to fade. Then this ungrateful lout states he needs cucumbers not this despised zucchini. Inwardly I groused, what an ungrateful person! For many years have we brought produce to the office; he has benefited mightily and we have never asked for one cent.

As I was perched on my self-righteous stool, I also decided inwardly that I would not bring any cucumbers to the office. I was going to teach this ungrateful lout a lesson.

Deep down inside I knew this was wrong. At one time I too was ungrateful of God’s love and provision. I took much of what He gave me for granted.

Later that evening I was invited out for dinner. As I waited to be picked up, I was reading in Luke 6. Verse 35 & 36 say: “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

When I read that verse, I had no option; I will bring cucumbers to work. A lesson learned by someone who should have known better.

Thank you, Holy Spirit for the reminder. Forgive me Lord. Amen

Sunday, July 25, 2010

"Let the Church Rise"

We heard this song this morning at Grace Community Church in Olivia.  We thought it was so very appropriate for so many of our beloved churches at this time. 

Click on the Blog title to go directly to the You Tube video or type in:

"Let The Church Rise"
by Israel Houghton & Jonathan Stockstill

We are alive filled with
Your glorious life
Out of the dark into
Your marvelous life
We are waiting with expectations
Spirit raise us up with You

Let the Church rise from the ashes
Let the Church fall to her knees
Let us be light in the darkness
Let the Church rise
Let the Church rise

Moving with power
Bringing Your name to the earth
Singing Your praises
Lifting up glorious songs

We are moving with His compassion
Spirit fill our hearts with You

Let Your wind blow
Let Your wind blow
Let Your wind blow
Revive us again Lord

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Foreigners View of America

Last week we had a family reunion. The highlight of the reunion was the presence of a German cousin who has researched the family. After the reunion, Haldor and I road tripped to Iowa to share information with our Hawkeye cousins.

Haldor’s definition of Iowa was this: corn field, bean field, ditch, pickup; corn field, bean field, ditch, pickup; corn field, bean field… Yes, Iowa in a nutshell.

Haldor was perplexed by some things in America. He said America is a land of extremes. America has the world’s largest porn industry yet to stop along a rural Iowa road and urinate opens one up to possible arrest for indecent exposure.

In the same small town we saw people living in shacks next to houses that are empty (in foreclosure). Around the corner is a 4500 square foot house with a 3-car garage occupied by only two people.

Haldor is an international businessman who has deep concerns for America’s wild spending and borrowing. Yet he found our roads in need of repair and our towns becoming seedy. I agree we have spent ourselves into financial slavery but what have we gotten or what are we going to accomplish with all our spending?

In the same time he said outwardly God is talked about; we pray over every meal. He asked “How can you, as Christians, tolerate such extremes?” Yes, how do we tolerate this? We tolerate it by keeping our head in the sand.

We may live in the Garden of Eden (great crops in Iowa and Minnesota). We have full bellies but at the same time we have empty, lonely hearts.

“I bet your pastors have a lot to say about this,” he said. I said, “No, not really.” It was quiet in the car for a long time. Our faith was for a moment exposed as lukewarm as best. I silently prayed, “Forgive me, Lord; change my heart.” American church, wake up!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Privilege of Growing Old – A Dairy Farmers View of Life

Psalm 71:18 (ESV) – “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.”

Last weekend we attended a great niece’s wedding. As they would say in days of old, “a fine time was had by all” and yes, we did have a fine time.

The bride’s father died when she was 11 years old. My niece, Nadine, the bride’s mother, never remarried but she now has a boyfriend named Karl, a Minnesota dairy farmer.

Karl farms with his brother; they live on the birthplace of his Mom. He is of German stock, resolute, hard working, with a sly sense of humor. Karl is kind and gentle but direct and to the point, no gandy dancing fluff in this guy. He is solid middle America. If you were to make a movie about the trials of farming and life, Karl could play the part. Karl was 17 when his 42 year old dad died of leukemia. Karl, along with his mother and younger brothers, took over the farm. Karl never married.

We were visiting after the wedding when I asked Karl, “Did you ever feel cheated that you had to take over the farm at such a young age?” His eyes narrowed; he drew serious and immediately he said, “No!” He never felt cheated, he loved cows, he loved farming but more importantly, it was his duty. The eldest son, even though young, felt the obligation to carry on and no, he never felt cheated.

In a way, I think Karl was somewhat offended that I would ask such a question. He is a man who would always do his best to do the right thing. Keeping the farm going was the right thing and good men would be expected to do that and Karl did. No victim here; you deal with what life hands you and he has done so, quite successfully, I may say.

Nadine visited with me recently and we discussed the wedding. We discussed how these events, weddings, births, birthdays, deaths, are markers in our life; a sure sign of getting older.

Nadine said, “You know what Karl says? ‘It’s a privilege to grow old.’” We may complain of getting old with its aches and pains and the slipping away of certain talents but Karl considers growing old a privilege. You see, his 42 year old dad never had that privilege; never saw his daughter get married; never bounced a grandchild on his knee. Oh Lord, what a good reminder. All of life is a privilege—a blessing. Yes, the Minnesota dairy farmer has it right.

Yes, Karl has taught us all a lesson. Deal with whatever life gives you but count each moment as you grow older (which is every day, by the way!) as a privilege.

Oh Lord, do not forsake me when I grow old. May we witness Your mighty power and great grace to the generations behind us. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

A Nation Allergic to W.A.S.P.s

On June 25, 2010, the New York Times carried an op-ed piece by Noah Feldman entitled “The Triumphant Decline of the “W.A.S.P.” W.A.S.P., White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, is a term we seldom hear today and the nation seems to be glad to rid itself of this northern European stock of the Protestant ilk. I guess as a nation we may be becoming allergic to them.

Feldman was referring to the potential confirmation of Supreme Court appointee Elena Kagan would finally rid the Court of Protestants. The Supreme Court will consist of six Catholics and three Jews.

Feldman argues that the decline of the W.A.S.P. may be their greatest triumph since it was the Protestants who are inclusive (neither Greek, free or slave) and it’s the Protestants who valued human beings on merit not the ethnicity of the blood running their veins, color or tribe.

In the same week, the not so supreme court ruled against a Christian group at a California law school who wanted its members to adhere to Christian morals. On one side of the fence, a pat on the back coupled with some seemingly private glee over the declining influence of the dreaded W.A.S.P.

At the same time Christianity is the fastest growing religion in the world not the Muslim faith as the main stream media insists. In Africa alone, there are more Lutherans than in North and South America and Asia combined. The African Lutherans (and other African church groups) are now sending missionaries to America.

Our influence may fall but our God reigns. Remember, His plans are never thwarted (Isaiah 55). In these days, Christians must keep their heads. This is the time to share the hope of Jesus Christ with our hurting neighbors. Christian, do not lose your heads; God is still, and always has been, on the throne. Do I understand all of it? No. That is all right because He has and will be faithful throughout all generations—even to us W.A.S.P. Now we must pray without ceasing for our nation.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Could America draft the Declaration of Independence today?

The following is a quote from David F. Wells’s book “Above All Earthly Pow’rs: Christ in a Postmodern World.”

“Douglas Groothuis has made the observation that it would be very difficult for us today to write the Declaration of Independence, given its premise that there are truths which are ‘self-evident,’ such as that ‘all Men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.’ Today we are a nation of relativists, as Allan Bloom lamented, for whom there are no enduring truths, let alone any that are self-evident. The distance that we have traveled in this matter can be seen in many ways, but not least in the fact that Martin Luther King’s appeal, which stirred so many Americans, was made on the basis of the existence of a moral reality larger than any private interest and to which the whole nation was to be accountable. Today, the great majority of Americans do not believe in the existence of truth which is absolute and enduring and to which appeal can be made.” (Douglas Groothuis, “Truth Decay: Defending Christianity Against the Challenges of Postmodernism,” Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000)
And today, we could never agree on the words of the first sentence of the last paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. I quote in part:

“We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the rectitude (righteousness) of our intentions, do, in the name, and authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be free…”
In other words, these people prayed to God Almighty that their intentions would be pure. They recognized “the Supreme Judge” not the creator, knowing they would have to answer to the Judge of the World. Time has shown their intentions were to be pure.

On this 4th of July, may we appeal “to the Supreme Judge of the World”. May God the Father and His Son Jesus with the power of the Holy Spirit receive all our honor and praise. God alone “is our ever present help in ages past and our hopes for years to come.”

May you have a blessed and free 4th of July.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Growing old in these days

I attended a graduation party recently and found myself seated next to a 52 years old social worker. She is widow; her husband died young and she never remarried. She says she is a believer in Jesus Christ and does not attend any church or Bible study and the like. She was positive, engaging, and animated. She was a very interesting woman.

Her work is primarily with older people. She loves the older people but she doesn’t like their kids; the older people’s kids are baby boomers. I asked her why and she said older people today help one another but she fears that the baby boomers will carry their “me only,” “I only worry about myself”and “to hell with the rest of you” attitude into old age.

The most generous old people are the poorest ones; they are very generous with the little that they have, she told me. Richer people are not as generous and look down on those “below” them. “They never ask for help from those who they consider to be of lower economic status,” she observed.

She told me to tell my “baby boomer” friends that the joy ride is over. As we age we will see costs rise and services being cut. She is at the end of the baby boomer age herself and says looking forward is not a pretty picture.

I asked if the church could help. She laughed. “The last place I’d ask for help would be the church;” a stinging rebuke. Most churches have an inward focus (if it has any focus) and the churches today seem to have no or little outward focus, she commented.

When I asked her what I had to look forward to in the nursing home she said, “Be prepared to be alone, in our generation other patients will probably not help.” She has noticed the nurses, men and women lack compassion. “Tell me something positive,” I said. She told me the young nurses coming in seem to be different from the 30-50 year old nurses. The new younger nurses are more kind and compassionate than the previous generation. Good news for a growing old man.

As I reflected on all she said, I said to myself, what a sad example my generation has become. It angers me when she slams Christ’s church. Sadly much of what she said is true. I guess we will sit in our own drivel and waste away. No one else will care and neither will we.

How do we as Christians respond? Jesus says, “I will be with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20). Remember God’s promise in these days—The Lord is with us.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

An Unplanned Evening in Starbuck, Minnesota

We were returning home from a business conference at the University of Minnesota Morris when we had car trouble in Starbuck. It was about 5:30 p.m. as our car rolled to a stop in front of the convenience store at the intersection of Hwy. 28 and the Main Street of Starbuck.

Being from out of town and about eighty miles from home, I looked at my wife and said, “This should be interesting.”

As we walked into the convenience store, I asked the manager “Who should we call for help?” Without hesitation he said, “Call John Perry” and handed me the phone book but we did not get an answer. A customer filling gas came in and asked how he could help; he said that John lived near him.

Another employee, a young man named Patrick, said John was his step Dad and he would call him on his cell. We were impressed with this small town kindness.

John and Audrey arrived quickly and towed our car to John’s Star Motors. The initial diagnosis was serious—transmission problems.

We called to find a ride home and our neighbor, Jane, graciously agreed to make the trip. Expecting a two hour wait, John and Audrey suggested we have dinner at a fund raiser being held at the old train depot a few blocks away. Incidentally, this is a type of event that was recommended at the conference to enhance our communities—farmers market, benefit meal, and local entertainment.

We, the outsiders, walked in with a tentative nature to be met with friendly servers. After we told of our blight, they jokingly said this supper was planned just for us—they knew we were coming!  Again we experienced the delightful small town kindness.

We ate with two couples; the women happened to be sisters. We visited like old friends; we shared our meal interspersed with good talk and humor. They also informed us that John Perry is a good guy and that they always take their car to him. We were relieved to hear the high recommendations.

We finished eating and walked up to the convenience store to meet our ride and visited with many friendly, helpful people.

The next day John looked at our car and called to say he had good news; it was not the transmission but an axle failure. He would have the car ready in a couple of hours. We were more than pleased. We were more than impressed.

Does the community of Starbuck realize how special it is? Everyone we met was welcoming, helpful, and honest—the customer at the gas pump, the convenience store manager, Patrick, the people at the community supper, and John and Audrey at Star Motors.

We wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone in Starbuck for the kindness shown to a couple of “wayfaring strangers.” We certainly felt God’s hand in this unplanned and possible trying situation which became an experience of grateful praise to Him as well as His people.  Thanks to all of you, especially John and Audrey Perry—we are strangers no more.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Passionate About Nothing

The following is a quote from the book "Blue Like Jazz" by Donald Miller. My daughter was reading this book for her book club. She gave me a copy of my own after she saw me reading hers. 

On page 111, Donald Miller says:
“A friend of mine, a young pastor who recently started a church, talks to me from time to time about the new face of church in America—about the postmodern church. He says the new church will be different from the old one, that we will be relevant to culture and the human struggle. I don’t think any church has ever been relevant to culture, to the human struggle, unless it believed in Jesus and the power of His gospel. If the supposed new church believes in trendy music and cool Web pages, then it is not relevant to culture either. It is just another tool of Satan to get people to be passionate about nothing.”

I Peter 1:13-19 says (ESV): 13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

Hebrews 2:3-10 (ESV): 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

5 Now it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. 6 It has been testified somewhere, "What is man that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? 7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, 8 putting everything in subjection under his feet.“ Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his controlAt present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.  9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. 10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.

Enough said.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Remembering Fred, farmer and soldier

Fred was one of my neighbors; he was a World War II Army Veteran. He died recently at home on the farm.

About ten years ago we had some business to discuss since our farms border each other. I put on the coffee pot and we discussed our business. Then I tried to get Fred to discuss World War II. As usual, he was reluctant. He turned the tables on me; he said “Where did you serve when you were overseas?” I replied, “Clark Air Base in the Philippines.” Fred said, “I was in the Philippines. Did you ever get down to the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila?” I told him I had and as a matter of fact, I visited it with a Danube native, the late Bruce Grosklags, an Air Force Veteran who served in Viet Nam.

Fred had a story about that cemetery. “We were bivouacked outside of Manila. We would march out to the field or jungle, be there about 2 ½ weeks and then march back into Manila for a few days of rest. One time when we were marching out to the jungle, the old Sarge said, “Look to the right boys, they’re starting an American Military Cemetery.” They were already in the process of burying bodies.”

An aside, some facts about this Cemetery: it is the largest military cemetery outside the Continental United States: buried there are 17,202 American soldiers and 514 Filipino Scouts who served and died with them. Listed on the walls are names of 36,285 American soldiers missing in action. If we put just the Missing in Action in a straight line, single file, on three foot centers, the line would stretch to just under 21 miles long.

Buried in this cemetery are 28 Medal of Honor winners, twenty pairs of brothers are buried side by side. All this, a sobering reminder of the high price paid for freedom.

“Two and a half weeks later” Fred said, “we were marching back to Manila. We were tired and disgusted. The old Sarge said to the troops, ‘Tighten it up boys, we’re getting close to the American Cemetery.’"

Then Fred said, “Not another word was spoken. Cigarettes were put out, chin straps tightened, weapons in place. As they walked by the American Cemetery, the only thing you could hear was the in-cadence click of their heels as they hit the road.”

Fred sat quietly at our table and did not say anything for a long time. He then looked up at me and said, “Jerry, there is nothing much left to be said.” I agreed.

Fred Nyquist and his wife Jeanette were both World War II Veterans. Jeanette died a number of years ago. They were active in the American Legion; they worked hard to uphold the high ideals of that organization. It was a job well done. We thank them. Blessed be their memory.

Even though they are dead, freedom lives. Yes, freedom lives and many men and women paid a very high price to keep it. It would do our country well in these not too heady days to remember this. I must admit some days I feel it is already too late. Even though, I have peace, we are in God’s hands.

Note: I was asked by the Legion to say a few words at Fred’s funeral and this was what I shared.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

At Least I Don’t Have Idols

We think we don’t have idols. I mean there are not any little carved, distorted, gold-plated men on my shelf that I worship every morning. Oh no, I don’t do that; I must be home free. No we are not.

What do you have in your life that you treasure--your wife, your husband, your children, your reputation, your land, your money? Yes, we should be good stewards of them but if asked by God, could we live without them and not be angry with God?

In Genesis 22 we have the account of the proposed sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham. Isaac was the son of promise; the son of Abraham’s old age. Isaac must have become the center of Abraham and Sarah’s lives. A life of drudgery, hard work, old age, and routine was thrown into disarray, happy disarray, with the presence of a baby boy who grows into a lad. Isaac had become an idol in their life.

God asks Abraham to sacrifice his own son. Any man would have to be angry with God, especially Abraham who had his son of promise in his old age. Why Lord? Why now? Isaac had pushed God out of the center of the life of Abraham.

The question we need to ask ourselves is this, “Would I be willing to sacrifice my _______________ (fill in the blank) who has become the center of my life, my idol?” Could we still praise God without our “idol”?

Oh, how the thought of this hurts. Timothy Keller in his book “Counterfeit Gods,” Dutton 2009 says in part: “Something is safe for us to maintain in our lives only if it has really stopped being an idol. That can happen only when we are truly willing to live without it when we truly say from the heart ‘Because I have God, I can live without you.”

The mere thought of this makes the back of my arms get goose bumps. Forgive me, Lord.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Not So Supreme Court

"I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. " 1 Corinthians 4:3-5

The media is full of positive and negative information about The Supreme Court appointee Elena Kagan. I find it interesting that with her assumed approval, a nation founded primarily by Protestants will have no Protestants on The Supreme Court. I realize all groups have a part in “The Great American Experiment,” yet I feel Christians as a whole, Protestant and Catholics, are being marginalized in our culture and politics.

Our founders understood “our rights” came from the Almighty God alone, our Creator. No judge, no king, no potentate, no congressman, no senator nor governor gave us our rights, God did. No man may take our “inalienable, God-given rights and dignity” from us. America was the first country to put this most important fact in writing. Our God is a God of liberty, freedom and might.

These same leaders knew as men, that we are all sinful by nature. Left to our own selves, we sin.

In light of this fact, our founders developed the idea of checks and balances. Power was shared in three branches of government. Each branch is accountable to the other two branches. Left unchecked and left non-scrutinized, men will sin and let power go to their head.

It was quite a system with the help of God that they developed. They codified our inalienable rights which come from God alone and they put in place a system of checks and balances to bring restraint and control upon us wayward, sinful men.

I smile when I read about the highest court in our land, the Supreme Court. They may be supreme in the USA but their supremeness ends at our shores. Their influence and power is held in check by the other branches of government, or should be. This may be a more appropriate comment in these days.

There is much to concern us about this appointment. We as citizens of this country need to exercise our freedoms and participate in the process. Remember the Supreme Judge of the entire world is God; the same God who endowed us with our rights. It’s good to know He was, He is, and He will be the Supreme Judge and Ruler of the world. Yes, He is on the Throne. He will return some day and He will judge the world. No Supreme Court Justice will make any difference. Our advocate by our side at the bar of justice will be Jesus. When we are pronounced guilty by The Judge, Jesus will say, “He is mine, put his sin upon my account.” Because of Jesus Christ, His taking my sin upon Himself, I walk free—what a Savior!

Don’t fear the days ahead. Remember, this is how we are to live. I Peter 2:13-17 says, “13Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. 17 Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.” It is good to be reminded of this." (Notice, in verse 13 supreme is in the lower case.) Yes, we will face trials but God is still on the Throne. He is Supreme!

Friday, May 07, 2010

When the Streets of Minneapolis come to Fairfax, Minnesota

I’m in the property management business in Minneapolis. I live 40 miles from Fairfax, Minnesota. I see Minneapolis influencing Fairfax more than Fairfax influencing Minneapolis.

In the last six months, street problems in Minneapolis have increased significantly. I know the statistics don’t recognize it yet but for us “front line people,” we see the change. I start checking properties at 6:00 a.m. In the past, I have felt safe but now the hair stands up on the back of my 62 year old head. Probably it is just because I’m an old man; it may be, but I think not.

In the last two weeks at least nine people have been murdered on the streets of Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. One of the deaths was the execution of Maplewood Police Sgt. Joe Bergeron. It is not just the killing but theft, assault and robbery have also increased. We see more prostitution and street level drug dealing. As unemployment benefits run out, some people feel forced to do things they once thought abominable.

Earlier this week in Fairfax, Minnesota, a 14 year old paper delivery girl was abducted and sexually assaulted. Yes, the streets of Minneapolis have come to Fairfax but do any of us give a damn?

Locally, I hear very little talk of this incident. Probably I’m on the outside looking in but I hear very little concern on the radio or in the press. Most internet comments for the paper were: “Lock him up and throw away the key” or “Cut his nuts off.” I can understand the deep feelings and frustration. Crime must be paid for; punishment must be meted out but what have we, as professing Christians, done to influence our culture for good or have we just become professional complainers after the fact.

I believe we live with our heads deeply planted in the sand. What message are we sending to our sons and daughters when we fail to openly discuss such things as sexual assault, physical violence, drug dealing, and prostitution when they are out in the open? You say, “Jerry, it may be happening in Minneapolis but not here.” Tell that to the young girl and her parents in Fairfax.

Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world.” Some days I cannot find much cheer and to my limited vision I don’t see much overcoming. In Rev. William Hendriksen’s book “More Than Conquerors,” copyright 1939 (before World War II), he said this in part on page 99:

“The light shines in the darkness: the churches are lampstands. But the darkness hates the light: the World persecutes the church.”
“Whenever in history the church is faithful to its calling and bears testimony concerning the truth, tribulation is bound to follow. Aside even from this fact, the church is in the world. Hence, it suffers along with the world. Children of God do not escape the horrors of war, famine, and pestilence. The church needs these tribulations. It needs both the direct antagonism of the world and participation in the common woes that pertain to this earthly life as a result of sin. The church, too, is sinful. It is in constant need of purification and sanctification.”
“These tribulations, therefore, are employed by our Lord as an instrument for our own spiritual advancement. We see God’s footstool. Let us not forget his Throne! To be sure, we say that to them that love God all things work together for good, but do we really believe it?”
“Hence, when the world is enkindling the flames of hatred and slaughter and when the earth is drenched with blood, may our tear-dimmed eye catch a vision of The Throne which rules the universe. In the midst of trial and tribulation may our gaze be riveted upon the One who is King of kings and Lord of Lords.”
As Christians, may we not remain unmoved about what’s happening around us. Let’s go into the world and be agents of change. Let’s reach out to the hurting even if it is sexual perverts, prostitutes and street hustlers. We seldom, if ever, touch shoulders with these people. Jesus did and He was criticized for it. If we do so also, we will be criticized. Most will consider us weird. Standing for truth, ministering to the down and out will cost us. Are we willing to pay the price? In the meantime, keep your eyes on the throne. God is still in control. Keep your eyes on the cross. It is our only hope and it is the only hope for the world. Jesus will come again and set all things straight. In the meantime, let’s be an army on the move not one sitting in the barracks (the church) complaining. God help us in these days.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Waiting in the Check-out Line--God’s Charity Case

Mark 10:25 - "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

I was coming home late from work and had to stop at the grocery store. I was tired. As I stood in the check-out line, I noticed the woman ahead of me. She was about 25 years old; she looked haggard and worn out. She was distracted by her three children, the oldest possibly seven years old.

I noticed what she had in her cart—convenience food, chips, frozen pizza. When she checked out, she used her food stamps and some card I assumed had something to do with welfare. For some reason, the card wouldn’t work and after a five minute delay, she sheepishly gathered her stuff and walked out of the store with a look of dejection.

Here I am, a hard working guy, a taxpayer, one who has never been on welfare myself seeing her wasting my tax dollars on convenience food, chips, and frozen pizza. How disgusting! Yet I’m not different from her; I have eaten too much of these things myself and I have received charity from other people.  I was agitated; not only was I delayed but as she walked out the door, I’m sure she saw my self-righteous, indignant look. Yes, I stripped her of some of the last dignity she may have had.

The sight of her and her children walking away from the check out counter in humiliation disturbed me; my mind would not rest. I thought, here I am passing judgment upon this woman because she is on charity when in reality I am God’s charity case. Grace is an undeserved gift from God. Who am I to pass judgment upon her? Of all the people that night, I should have known better. I was the one to be pitied, not her. I couldn’t choose; God chose me. God loves me not because of what I’ve done but because I’m His. God is, and has been, gracious to me. God gave His Son to die for me; I did not deserve it and I have the gall, even if it were for one minute, to pass judgment on this dear woman or any one else for that matter.

I’m not any different than her; I just haven’t been publicly humiliated yet. By the grace of God go I. I’ve asked God for forgiveness. It amazes me how disgusting I can be sometimes.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

We have no reason to be bored

She is 18, a college freshman; smart, pretty, but she tells me she is bored. The classes are boring, her friends are boring, and everything is boring.

Her mom and dad want her to get a 4-year degree “in something.” They both have 4-year degrees “in something.” Dad is a fork lift operator and Mom works in the office of a school.

She would really like to be a mechanic; she loves fixing cars. She says, “Apparently Mom and Dad don’t want their daughter to come to the family reunion with scared up, oversized hands with ingrown dirt.”

I can understand teenagers who are bored with life. I believe that’s part of being young. We make the mistake of comparing ourselves to others, and we feel inferior. We all make a common mistake—we compare ourselves to other people’s “highlight reel as it were.” We only see their victories and spectacular accomplishments. We don’t see the hard work it took to achieve their “highlight reel as it were.” We don’t see the long streaks of being “bored” in their life; we don’t see their everyday struggles. As a result, we view our life as boring.

Let’s be realistic, much of our life is boring. We think life is a connection of random happenings which hopefully come together to mean something. Life is joy mingled with tears. We like the joy; tears we can live without. We try desperately to star in our own “highlight reel.”

What saddens me is when I find adults who are bored with life—no purpose, no vision. We should know better but we don’t. A psychologist I know says, “We have all become perpetual adolescents.”

I think it is time to grow up… May we as Christians be brought to maturity by the power of the Holy Spirit. These times need mature people, mature Christians. Let’s put aside this silliness and grow up.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Temporary Dual Citizen

Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.” - 1 Peter 1:17.
“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”  - 1 Peter 2:11-12.

I served in the United States military, the U.S. Air Force; I served for four years. I pledged allegiance to this country; I was willing to defend it, defend it with my life. I feel it was one of my obligations as a citizen of the United States of America.

When I served in the Air Force, I was not a Christian. I believe there was a God; I knew He had power, was Sovereign and I understood as soldiers, we were His agents of wrath (Romans 13:4 says “For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”). This is one of the purposes of government. I knew about God but had no relationship with Him. Once Christ found me, that all changed.

Because I am God’s child, my citizenship is in heaven (“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,” - Philippians 3:20.). At the same time I live in the United States and I am a citizen. I have temporary dual citizenship— forever in Heaven, temporarily a U.S. citizen.

God through the Holy Spirit and the pen of Peter in 1 Peter 2:11 says we are to live as “strangers and aliens in the world.” Aliens are defined as “a person born in another country, a foreigner, and so not entitled to citizenship where he lives.” I have the best of both worlds—a citizen of the United States (although temporarily), born here, a native as it were. When I became a Christian, I was “born again” into the kingdom of Heaven, a citizen of heaven for eternity.

The good news is this—some day when I go home to be with the Lord, my temporary U.S. citizenship will end. That’s what I look forward to. In the meantime, I will live here; I won’t let my roots go too deeply into this life and this terra firma called the U.S.A.—my eternal home or citizenship as it were, is in Heaven.

This world is not my home, I’m just passing through says the Old Negro spiritual. It’s good to be reminded of that. All things on this side of heaven are temporary. Good news for this old country boy.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Almost a Christian

Acts 26:28: “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” (KJV) “Then Agrippa said to Paul, "Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?" (NIV)

"Almost a Christian—what a disgusting combination! But are there such people? And how may we know them?

"One who is almost a Christian has no personal religious experience. He has never consciously repented of his sins and asked God for pardon, nor believed that God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven all his sins. He has no daily fellowship with God in the Word and in prayer. He finds the Bible dry and uninteresting, and he can find no time for prayer and meditation. He has found in the Bible neither himself nor the “Pearl of Great Price,” and consequently he does not grow in grace.

"One who is almost a Christian makes no sacrifice. He may make large donations, but only of his abundance. It takes love for the Master and His cause to make one sacrifice. He who is but almost a Christian loves neither the Master nor His work. Christ wants to show him his sins that He may save him; but he does not want to be humbled and beg for grace. Therefore Christ can do nothing for him.

"Dear reader, do not be content to be almost a Christian. “Almost does not avail, Almost is but to fail.” Seek grace to become an altogether whole-hearted Christian who not only has had a personal religious experience but who lives in daily fellowship with Jesus Christ and is willing to serve and sacrifice for Him and His cause.

"Dear heavenly Father, we pray that Thou wilt make us true, whole-hearted Christians, that we may live in daily fellowship with Thee both here and hereafter; in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."

This devotional is an excerpt from a book that belonged to Judi’s Grandma Nelson entitled, The Home Altar: A Book of Family Devotions for Each Day in the Year published in 1936 by The Danish Lutheran Publishing House, Blair, Nebraska.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Be not afraid – He has Risen

I woke up this morning to hear on the radio the complete hopelessness of the Veterans’ Administration hospitals. My thought had been when I get really old, then I would qualify for the VA Hospital. It is my back-up plan. (Be aware, in spite of what I hear on the radio, I hear the care is excellent in VA hospitals.)

In a meeting with a long-time tenant this week, he said unless things turn around in the next two months, he may shut down the business. He is fearful. Fear is all around. As Christians there is only one thing we should fear... "So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:26-28).  Fear God; beyond that don’t be afraid.

In this fear-laden time, it is fitting that this resurrection week remembrance should remind us that love drives out fear. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18.

In 1 John 4:19 it says, "We love because He first loved us."  Who is He? Jesus. How did He first love us? He went to the cross willingly to bear our sin, die for us, in our place. He did all this when? Romans 5:6-8 “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Why then should we be afraid? We are the undeserving benefactors of the greatest gift of all time (peace with God), the greatest sacrifice (Jesus death on the cross). This is all a demonstration of God’s love to us—all initiated by God. All this was worked out in the life, death, suffering, and resurrection of His one and only son Jesus. If this is true, why are we afraid?

In Romans 8:14-15 it says this about believers… “because those who are led by the Spirit of God1 are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba," Father'." (Abba means daddy).

Should we be afraid of the future? No, God is still on the throne with His Son by His side awaiting the command of the Father, to go get His kids (us). Yes, if we believe, why are we afraid?

Fear God alone; beyond that, don’t be afraid. The world is cowering, looking for hope and answers. Share Christ with them.

Jesus Christ alone is our hope and salvation. Let’s live like His children should live—sacrificially and courageously. God help us in these days. Don’t be afraid.