Sunday, December 15, 2013

Are you willing to take refuge in God?

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

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

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

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

Thursday, November 21, 2013

God uses unschooled ordinary men and women

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 15, 2013

The people need a shepherd—

How a Little Makes a Big Difference


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Who is your master?

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

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

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


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Simple Servanthood

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

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

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

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


Saturday, October 19, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

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

Be alive—dance; God is with us.



Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Being a Servant

Matthew 20:24-28 – When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers.  Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,  and whoever wants to be first must be your slave--  just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

An old timer told me a story which ended like this, “we like the idea of being a servant until someone actually treats us as one.”  Wow! That is a lot of truth in a few words.  We pontificate and speculate about what Christ has said.  Some of the things Jesus says are much harder to put into practice than to just talk about doing.  When we serve other people, we sometimes are exposed for our true selves; a side of us we don’t want others to see.

In living life, engaging in the lives of other people, ministering to other people can be messy.  This serving can rankle us or flare to life a smoldering resentment or anger, i.e., like actually being treated as a servant.  It is much easier to talk about being a servant.  It is harder and personally more challenging to keep our head when we have to clean up our couch after a drunk vomits on it.

Jesus, in Revelations (Rev. 3:15-17) spits out people.  Who does He spit out?  The lukewarm ones of us;  the ones who talk about being a servant but smolder underneath when they have to serve…or when they are treated as a servant.

Forgive me Lord.  Amen




Tuesday, October 08, 2013

We are not called to be comfortable

2 Corinthians 1:6 – “If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.”

Inga and her husband grew up in South America.  I do not know her life story except that she is the mother of four children.  This story was related to me as I was not at the church meeting where a discussion was held regarding increasing a certain area of the building because people felt the space was small and made people feel “uncomfortable.”  It was then that Inga stood up and said, “We are not called to be comfortable.”

When I heard the story, Inga’s words cut to the heart.  We are (as Christians) not called to be comfortable.  God comforts; we should feel safe and secure, but not necessarily comfortable. 

            James 1:2-4 says:  Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

                 John 10:27-18 – My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.”

Matthew 11:28 -- "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Philippians 4:6 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

I think the bottom line for our desire for comfortability is self-centeredness and complacency.  Comfortability coupled with complacency and self-centeredness is a recipe for a church not on the march but a church that becomes stagnant.  Stagnant water stinks; so do stagnant and comfortable people and churches. 


Recommended reading:  “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan.



Saturday, August 17, 2013

The “Old Fashioned” Unchangeable God…

Immutable God means God cannot change; He is constant, faithful.

God never changes in His attributes or counsel.  God does not grow, improve, or evolve because God is already perfect.  God cannot diminish, deteriorate, or regress.  He always has been and He will forever be.  He does not change His mind.  He does not make a promise and then change His vow.  This is good for us redeemed sinners; good news to us sheep dressed in full armor.

To the world—Change is progress, change is hip, change means you’re with it; you’re the cutting edge.  Remember this is in spite of all these changes and the progress.  Man’s problems remain the same—man needs a Savior no matter how sophisticated we become.  We need the unchanging God, His unchanging Son and the unchanging Spirit.  Because an honest self-appraisal reveals we are lost without this one and only unchanging God.  God is timeless, God’s word is timeless; God’s love for us is eternal = Timeless.  God is never old fashioned; He IS or should I say I AM.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Memorial Day Recognition

Every year in Danube, MN, there is a Memorial Day Program sponsored by the American Legion Post.  At the end of the program, the crowd assembles outside at the flag pole for the reading of the Roll of Honor--names of those veterans who have passed away.  We have heard those names each year for many years but what do we know about the individual person?  So, for the past several years, specific honorees have been recognized during the program so we can learn something about them. 

The following is what will be shared this year about Gust Standfuss, a decorated veteran of World War II.

Sgt. Gustave T. Standfuss
United States Army – World War II
Sgt. Gustave T. Standfuss was born on February 27, 1924 on the family farm in Emmett Township, rural Renville County.  He was born to Theodore and Augusta (Seehusen) Standfuss. 
Gust worked on the home farm before joining the U.S. Army in World War II.  He served in the Central European Rhineland Theatre from 1944-1946.  He served as a Combat Infantryman and was awarded the Bronze Star.  Not only did Gust serve, but two of his brothers, Elmer and Henry (Hank) also served in World War II.  Gust was one of seven first cousins that served in WWII.  His first cousin, Alice Ballard Meyer, lost her husband in WWII.
After the service Gust continued to farm and became a part-time police officer in Danube. In 1978 Gust became Police Chief in Danube and served faithfully until 1991; he was also selected Minnesota Peace Officer of the Year.  Gust married Anna Groen in 1950 and they were the parents of ten children.  Anna died in 1996 and Gust later married Jean Wendinger.  He was a member of the American Legion for over 50 years.
Three of Gust’s grandsons served in the Army National Guard during the Iraq war.  Jim Standfuss, son of Phil and Nancy Standfuss served in the Continental US; Daniel Stephens, son of Susan and Brad Stephens, and Adam Standfuss both served in Iraq.  Adam, also the son of Philip and Nancy Standfuss, was severely wounded in Iraq. 
Gust did not say much about his war experiences.  At the Seehusen family reunions the veterans are acknowledged.  One year Gust stood up and began to speak.  He told of going into battle with 252 men and Gust was one of only 19 that survived.  He shared that during this prolonged battle he turned 21 years old and grew a mustache that he would never shave off as it would serve as a daily reminder of his war experience. 
Gust was a POW of the Germans for a short time at the end of the war.  He and a fellow soldier were interrogated and then ordered to go to the basement.  The word was, if you went to the basement, you never came back up.  He and his friend prepared to die.  But Gust and his friend did come back up alive and the German officer in charge handed Gust his service weapon, a German Lugar pistol, and said “You’re in charge now; the war is over.”  The Standfuss family is still in possession that German Lugar pistol.
Gust’s records did not record his POW status but information gleaned from the memories of a buddy, Lee Gardner, made reference to the radio detachment being captured.  Gust was a member of that group. 
Gust’s daughter, Sue, shared some pages of the memoir of Lee Gardner, Gust’s buddy from North Carolina.  It is a valuable source of information. 
Gardner wrote a letter to Gust in March 2012.  I quote in part… the letter opens:
“I think you will recall us serving together in Company G, 119th Infantry of the 30th Infantry Division during World War II.  I have much admiration and respect for you.”
The Standfuss family received some pages of the memoir from Gardner.  Gardner would write in the margins, “Gust, remember this?” or “Gust was here.”  Gust and Gardner were together from France to the Elbe River.
In closing I will share three paragraphs from Lee Gardner’s memoirs that were marked Gust’s name.
“On another occasion during the same battle, Lee’s (and Gust’s) company was cut off by the Nazi’s and had no food for three days.  Wnd had no food for three battle, Lee'orge Lee Gardner'd respect for you."s of a buddy, George Lee Gardner, made referorse still, they were forced to wear the same uniforms for three months and they contacted body lice.  After the Battle of the Bulge, one of the Army generals took all of us to a spa in Belgium where the rich and famous from that region came to bathe,” Lee recalled.  “It was a tremendously wonderful feeling getting to bathe and change clothes after we hadn’t had the opportunity to do either for so long.  We bathed in mineral water and I then felt like I was the cleanest guy on Earth.  The Army took our old uniforms, burned them and gave us new clothes.”
“Lee (and Gust) were some of the famous General George S. Patton’s troops who had to walk 72 miles in only three days during blizzard conditions to get back behind German forces after they had made their breakthrough.  Lee recalls wading through snow up to his waist and got both feet frostbit in the battle.  Fortunately, he didn’t have any lasting medical problems from that.  He also remembers how he and one of his Army buddies went inside an old barn in the area hunting eggs to eat, as food was scarce, and once again his life was spared.  He apparently walked in a slightly different direction than his buddy, who stepped on a mine in the barn.  “It blew both his legs off and he bled to death because he couldn’t get any medical help.”
“Lee (and Gust) also helped liberate five Nazi Concentration camps which Lee said was “One of the absolute worst parts of war.  Those places were brutal and horrible beyond all means of description.  You could smell them for many miles before you got to them.  There were millions murdered in them in every conceivable manner.  And many of those who survived were beaten, starved and treated as inhumanly as you can imagine.  It is so sad that the human mind can comprehend treating people in such barbaric ways.”

This day we remember with honor the sacrifice of Sgt. Gustave T. Standfuss.   This is a time when our news is filled with ongoing government scandals.  Four Americans were left to die in Benghazi and a Government official says, “What difference does it make?”  It shows our lack of appreciation for our freedoms; freedoms that were obtained and maintained with the shedding of blood.  We would all do well to remember the high price paid not only the sacrifice of the Standfuss family but also of others who have served and sacrificed.
If Eternal vigilance is the price we must pay for our freedom, it surely is the least we can do.
Blessed be the memory of Sgt. Gustave Theodore Standfuss.
I would like to remind each of you to take time this Memorial Day to remember those who have sacrificed for our freedom.  ~ Beef

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Be careful when we spout off...

Bildad, Job’s buddy, goes on a rant in Job 25 about the power of God and the hopelessness of man.  Job has been suffering, hurting, irritable and frustrated with his buddies’ advice.  Job says in Job 26:1-4 ... “Then Job replied: 2 "How you have helped the powerless! How you have saved the arm that is feeble!  3 What advice you have offered to one without wisdom! And what great insight you have displayed!   4 Who has helped you utter these words? And whose spirit spoke from your mouth?

Job says (Jerry paraphrased) “by the way Bildad, you may criticize God but what have you done to help the powerless or feeble? (Job 26:1-2)

If we are prone to spout off about God, we need to ask ourselves, “What are we doing for the powerless and feeble?”  Probably nothing.  In and of ourselves we lack true wisdom (verse 3) and have none, if any, insight.

Then Job launches the broadside in verse 4:  "Who has helped you utter these words? And whose spirit spoke from your mouth?"

We could not speak, grumble, utter, whisper, complain, sing, cry, weep, whistle, or yodel unless God gave us life, breath, and everything else.  Acts 17:25  -- “And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.

Before we spout off about God, we should consider the stupid things we are about to say or do.  And remember, every breath we take, every beat of our heart is an undeserved gift from God himself!  We need to be careful before we spout off…forgive us God.


Monday, April 15, 2013

The Unprepared Army

For about two years, I have been preaching once a month at Immanuel Lutheran Church in rural Annandale, Minnesota. We have been preaching through the first twelve verses of 1st Peter, Chapter 1. It’s taken us five sermons but that’s all right. Some of you are not surprised since I’m considered long winded anyway.

The first 12 verses remind us of who we are as Christians; in verse 13 of Chapter One, the message changes. To my unprofessional eye, Peter states seventeen things in these 12 verses about who we are in Christ. It’s an impressive list; it should make us dance.

In verse 13 it says, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action.” Peter writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit calls us to action. What action? How about getting our head screwed on right before we go to war. How about true worship before action.

Matthew 16:21-27 says, "From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 'Never, Lord!' he said. 'This shall never happen to you!' Jesus turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.' Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.'”
In verse 22 Peter says, "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!" Peter wanted his plan not God’s. This suffering and being killed stuff was not part of Peter’s plan. Oh, how unprepared and stupid we, like Peter, can be! Today we want Christ and our plan doesn’t include suffering and being killed either. No, we like Peter want Christ but we don’t want the cross.

We want the easy faith. Lord, don’t call me to suffer yet in verses 24-27 Jesus tells us we must deny ourselves and take up our cross.

Today, in the American church, are we prepared for this taking up the cross and following Christ? We like all the “benefits” as it were, of being a Christian yet we shrink from the ensuing battle and the sacrifice it will take to follow Christ. Peter knows what’s going to happen to him. Read John 21:18-19: “I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!" Tradition has it; Peter died being crucified upside down.

We are not prepared to fight much less have the basic truths of the faith rooted deeply in our mind. Peter waited for Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was to pray and watch—he fell asleep. We have fallen asleep; we haven’t prayed; we haven’t watched. We wanted Christ, but please no cross for me. Brother and sisters, persecution is coming and we are an unprepared army. See 1 Peter 1, we are not ready to fight. Oh Lord, please forgive our slumber, may we watch, pray and worship you. May we fully understand your plan. Fill us with your Spirit. Prepare us for battle, root truth deep in our hearts and minds. Do not leave us to ourselves. Come Holy Spirit, come. Amen.
This is a repost of the October 22, 2009 Blog.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

What is true manhood?  Characteristics  of Being a Man

Last time we studied some things that characterized a true man.  These are my own ideas that I’ve learned working with men over the years.  Culture has rooted some of them out of our society.

As to wives and girlfriends…
Quote:  “A real man will always carry your bags, open the door, show you respect and remind you how beautiful you are.”
Quotes from Don Juan Matus:  “The worst that could happen to us is that we die, and since that is already our unalterable fate, we are free; those who have lost everything no longer have anything to fear”
Fear God alone; God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
Don’t live life being afraid of other men.  Don’t pick or start fights…if you get in a fight, finish them.
1.    The past is forgiven – Psalm 103:1-5 says Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits--  who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,  who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

2.    Today is in God’s hands: Psalm 104:1-5 – “Praise the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty. He wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters. He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind.  He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants. He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.”

3.    The future is with Him.  Hebrews 13:5-6Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"

4.    Teach those around you.   Teach during everyday life not just formal settings.  Teach all the time.  Teach what you know.   Pick the time and the place.  Just tell is as it is.  Uncle Jim and I were not taught a lot of things.  We had to learn on our own; that can be a costly and painful lesson.

                  Titus 2:6-8Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8 and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.
                  Deuteronomy 6:6-7 --  These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

5.     Be a warrior protector - Let everyone in town know that if anyone messes with your family or friends, you will hold them accountable.  Make your statement by actions not just words.
Joshua 14:10-12; Jeremiah 22:16; Proverbs 31:9

Never stop being a warrior.   Stand up for the right thing; defeat what is wrong.  A warrior is:  “A man or a woman who is a fearless, strong and skilled fighter standing up for what is right.” Sometimes we must do something we don’t want to do—that’s being a man (adult).  Do the right thing.

6.    Be a friend – Be an honest friend.

a.    _________ down your life for others.  John 15:12-15 -  .  My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.You are my friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

b.    The greatest friend we have is God.  -- James 4:8Come near to ________   and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

c.    How do you pick friends? 

                                  i.    Proverbs 13: 20 --  He who walks with the _________  grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.

                                ii.    Keep your tongue.  Proverbs 22:24-25 – “Do not make friends with a ___________   ______, do not associate with one easily angered,  or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.

                               iii.    1 Corinthians 15:33 -- Do not be misled: "______     ______________ corrupts good character."

7.    How do you treat your friends? 

Luke 6:31— “Do to others as you would have them do to you.  (Sound familiar??)

Romans 12:10 – “Be _______________ to one another.”  (Could also use ‘loyal’)

Ephesians 4:29-32 -  “Forgive as _________ forgives.”

8.     Importance of friendship

a.    Proverbs 17:17 - ________________ makes friends like brothers.

b.    Proverbs 19:20 -  Listen to _______________ and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.

c.    1 Samuel 18:1-3 – David loved __________________ as a _________________.

In closing, remember God has a purpose for each of us.

Psalm 57:2I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills [his purpose] for me.