Tag Archives: God’s will

For God the impossible takes no time at all 140th anniversary observance of First St Johns Mark 10:23-31 October 18, 2015

[Please click the above the link for the audio version]

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who know that nothing’s impossible for God said … AMEN!

The SEABEES are part of the U.S. Navy, they are unique not because they are involved in constructing facilities like runways, landing facilities, fortifications, they are unique because while they are involved in construction they are often under enemy fire. Just like Nehemiah’s men, while some men worked on the wall around Jerusalem, others stood guard with swords and spears. Likewise SEABEES are often portrayed with a shovel in one hand and a rifle slug over their shoulder. Their unofficial motto is “With willing hearts and skillful hands, the difficult we do at once, the impossible takes a bit longer!” I had the privilege of serving with a SEABEE in Naval Coastal Warfare, he was about six foot 3 and as wide as he was tall, he could have been a linebacker. I had to share a two man tent with him for the first four nights we were in Spain, I acquired a lot of sympathy for my wife who has had to sleep with a big moose for all these 36 years.

On this 140th anniversary of First/St Johns Evangelical Lutheran Church, I can certainly say the same for those who founded this church. I can’t begin to imagine what it must have taken to conceptualize (a brilliant mind like John Augustus Dempwolf, who also designed the Pennsylvania State Lunatic Hospital in Harrisburg… and supervised the construction of Holy Cross Cathedral in Boston, First Saint Johns is certainly a remarkable achievement.) Also what it must have been like to raise the money, organize the resources to raise this magnificent house of worship, built to the glory of God. I wonder if it took “just a little bit longer.”

More and more we are realizing how vitally important strong Christian churches are to the vitality of our cities. So while we observe the founding and building of this structure, a feat that must have been enormous. Of equal importance are those people who 140 years ago had the vision to see how important a strong Christian ministry is in the heart of the city of York. That these structures were built to inspire awe and a tiny hint of God’s glory, the glory of the eternal, perfect world in our Lord Jesus Christ. I really like bringing people into this sanctuary for the first time and inevitably they will let a reverential “wow” come from their lips as they take in this magnificent house of Christian worship, the place where we join together to raise up God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

This all speaks to the fact that there are those in the world who do those things that are to the glory of God, that look beyond themselves, that want, yes, what is best for themselves, but they also know that what is best is not for themselves alone, it is for all. Certainly Christ is best, there is no other way but through Christ. This quote from C.S. Lewis: God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” I just do not understand how people can cope without Christ. They are quick to blame a God they don’t believe in, they have many idols in their lives; their money, possessions (remember the rich young ruler from last week), job/position, spouse, home, on and on. Other idols include drugs, alcohol, sex, power, food… As Pastor Eric Lang notes about today’s Old Testament passage; “Ecclesiastes here focuses more on the danger of wealth to those who are wealthy.”[1] How is that dangerous? It is mortally dangerous! We can’t focus on two idols and Jesus certainly clearly stresses that: “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matt 6:24) Jesus never says don’t have money. Lazarus was wealthy for this time. Jesus doesn’t condemn him. It seems as though Lazarus was more than willing to share his wealth, he uses his wealth to provide for others. Jesus says: “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” (Luke 16:9) Remember how God told the rich man who was blessed with a plentiful crop, he had all kinds of plans to hoard and benefit from his produce? “But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’” (Luke 12:20) We don’t really know for sure, it was 140 years plus ago, but I would be willing to bet that those who founded Heilige Johannes Evangelisch-Lutherischen Kirche were not particularly rich people. Either way, their lives weren’t like the rich farmer when he said: “And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’” (Luke 12:19) Many, maybe most, had emigrated from Germany and their vision was not about being merry, it was about a church that would be a witness to the world around them to the glory of Jesus Christ. Part of that witness was providing for those who also emigrated from Germany and no doubt to help their neighbors. We continue to live that heritage today. I’m not German, but I am Lutheran. Many here today aren’t German, but as a result of this church being here, they have had an opportunity to come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord, they know that they are only saved in Christ. They certainly understand the C.S. Lewis quote there is no happiness or peace other than in Jesus. Sure in today’s world many think they have peace through self-medicating and indulging, but they come to realize how shallow, hopeless and the slavery they fall into when they surrender to worldly pleasures. Only through Christ do we have true life, only because of His sacrifice do we have eternal life in the resurrection. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross do we have that relationship with God in this world and in the eternal resurrection.

The men and women who had the vision for this church, who struggled to bring this church to reality, who served Christ in this church and because of that served so many others, those people understood what Jesus’ words meant. They did not store away their wealth, but they used it as a tool to build this magnificent testimony to the Lordship of Christ and their true life because of Him. By doing that they also have witnessed to Christ to generations of people who have worshipped here, who have received the life-saving message of Christ’s Gospel here. The founders of this church did the impossible, not as men and women, but as the faithful of Christ who were guided by the faith the Holy Spirit gave them and sacrificed time, treasure and talent to build this glorious witness. Because of it God did the “impossible” through them and saved countless souls because of the Christian ministry in this church.

While they are the church waiting in heaven, we who are their brothers and sisters in Jesus, now bear their mantle to continue to witness to Christ, not just in this building, but going out into the community they knew so well to proclaim the life-saving message of Christ. Those who are led by those who are here, then come and join us in this magnificent house of God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit to grow in their life in Christ and to raise their children and generations that will follow us.

We praise God for them, for what they have left to us, for those who are here today and whom we have personally known who sacrificed and worked so hard for this church that we join together in, in Christ.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom

Design attribution to Terry Downs

[1] Eric Lange  Concordia Pulpit Resources Vol 25, Part 4, Series B

God knows all, does all. It would be smart for you to recognize that.

There are two traits of God that we, all people, just can’t seem to accept. One that God is transcendent, that He is not limited by time and space. God makes His own time and His own space in His will. We are limited, we have a finite amount of time and space. He doesn’t He moves the way He needs to and in His own time. We often have this view of God that comes to us from paganism. The “gods” were just as much subject to time and space as mortals. The only difference is the “gods” were immortal, men aren’t.
The second characteristic we as Christians know about God is that He is immutable. He never changes, He has always been completely perfect, knows all, sees all. He doesn’t change, what would He change to if He is already completely perfect?
We change and no doubt when we go through different, perhaps difficult times in our life, we think He is somehow changing, when He is actually changing us.
Let’s get over ourselves and realize that God is changing us for our good. Frankly people look like real suckers when they buy into the world’s goofy view that somehow we need to teach God. If you believe that I have a bridge you might like to buy. God works in our life, not vice versa, do you really think that if you didn’t exist that God would somehow not be able to function? Really? Do you not see how goofy that is? And yet people act as if it depends on them. No! Our God is omniscient He is all knowing. He is omnipresent, He knows all. He is omnipotent, that is all powerful. He is transcendent He created time and space, He controls time and space, not vice versa,like time and space controls us. He is immutable everything there is to know He created, there is nothing He doesn’t know or can be taught.
The world today actually thinks it knows all and it knows so little, we act as if we know more than God. How can we know more than He who created all. Doesn’t it make more sense to look to Him who really does know and trust what He does and get over this goofy idea that we really have anything to offer other than being a living sacrifice to God Father, Son and Holy Spirit and to serve His people under His Lordship. That is what makes sense.

Vocations ultimate purpose.

Just finished Patrick Morley’s book A Man’s Guide to Work I got a different perspective that I wanted to share that emphasizes how God is at work in all the parts of our lives. Yes, that includes work.

“What is the ‘main thing’ that God is always doing in the world? It’s bringing people into right relationship with Him and right relationship with each other. To achieve this God has established four universal purposes for us – two for relationship and two for tasks.

  • The Great Commandment: To love God (Matthew 22:37)
  • The New Commandment: To love one another (John 13: 34)
  • The Great Commission: To build the kingdom (Matthew 28: 18-20
  • The Cultural Mandate: To tend the culture (Genesis 1:28)

The Genesis reference is God telling Adam and Eve: “God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

While I’ve never really thought about Genesis 1:28 in terms of our work, but reading it I can certainly understand.

Morley goes on to write: “The marketplace is the great arena of human events – innovating, manufacturing building, buying, selling, serving customers, making markets. And the main thing happening in your work is that God is sovereignly orchestrating all the seemingly unrelated occurrences of your day to bring you – and the people you touch – into right relationship with people.

This is the ultimate purpose of work: to bring people into right relationship with God and with each other.”

Morley built one of Florida’s 100 largest privately held companies. I have no doubt that he’s been there, done that and for him to recognize what the marketplace is, that it is certainly included in God’s sovereignty helps me to live and confirm that to those I reach out to.

As much as I see people try and compartmentalize their vocation and their Christian faith, the fact is God is in control of all. He uses your life in your vocation to work on you, and to work through you to reach others. Based on my own experience the faster your adjust accordingly, the more your life will change. It might be better, it might be more difficult. But if we are talking relationships, the one you have with the Father trumps everything. You will find that joy and assurance of being in His will. If you’re priorities are in order, God first and then His will for the rest, life might not be “fun”, might be tough, but it will be an adventure. At the end we hear from Him: ““His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” What is most  important? And as Morley points out: “He doesn’t leave it to human will or effort. Instead, He sovereignly oversees His plan purpose.” (Romans 9:16)

We get together for a mid-week break, the coffee shop at the corner of Beaver and W King Sts, you’re welcome to park behind the church at 140 W King and walk about fifty yards. Wednesday mornings 10 am, I will even buy your first cup of coffee. If you have any ideas for a group of Christians to share their lives in the workplace, please let me know.

God isn’t going to push, He will encourage

Rev Ken Klaus – Lutheran Hour Ministries: “Years ago I called on a man, a member of my church, who was a good man, at least in the eyes of the community. By that I mean the fellow was honest in his dealings with others; he took good care of his family, didn’t drink, gamble, or swear. He was always faithful and conscientious in paying his bills and taking care of his other debts. During our visit I asked, ‘Tell me, you pay all your other debts, but I never see you in church; I never see you at Communion, and the church offering plate never sees a dollar from your account. Why are you faithful in paying your debts to others, but not to the Lord?” He thought for a minute and then, without being flip, he replied, “Well, pastor, I don’t pay so much attention to God, because He doesn’t push as hard as everybody else.”

Listeners, that guy had it right. The Lord is not going to push; He is not going to beg; He is not going to twist your arm. What He is going to do is say, “Look at My Son who gave His life to save your soul. With faith in Him You will be in heaven; without faith, you are headed for hell. Jesus is the best thing which has ever happened to you and for you. Don’t turn your back on Jesus. Be ready for the day when He will say to this world, ‘enough is enough.’ When that day arrives, I want everyone to be glad to see Me.”

Pastor Klaus is one of my favorites, you have to check out  wwwlhm.org to hear the audio versions of these sermons from Pastor Klaus and also Pastor Greg Seltz.

Have to consider his point. No God’s not going to get up in your face, not normally. To those who don’t know Jesus, yes the Holy Spirit is going to keep tugging at you, getting in your head sometime, continuously pointing to God. But, wow, we really give the world carte blanche, “entre” into our head, never thinking an hour ahead of time. Then we have the arrogance to decide, when we really have to, “well God’s just going to have to take me as I am, I’m good enough.” No you’re not, I’m not, no one is, God accepts us under very simple conditions. We follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, we are baptized in the Name of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We receive the true Body and Blood of Jesus, what was sacrificed as payment for our sins and we hear His Word preached. No heavy lifting, all for your benefit, yet too often, because God doesn’t push, we think the nonsense around us is more important.

True life is in God the Father, His Son Jesus, guided by the Holy Spirit. It is a life of meaning, “life, life more abundant”, of joy, promise and hope. Do you get that in the world? Ya, no, just more grind, more gimmee, gimmee, and in the end, we all know death, hopelessness, complete loss and eternal condemnation. I have yet to have anyone give me any other possible outcome. True life in Jesus and then we die, we go to be in His presence, but then true, eternal, perfect, abundant challenging life in Jesus in the resurrection. Gotta tell you, seems logical, it is God who leads you into salvation, but you can resist and refuse, and for what?

It’s God’s will, we are in His will or we are condemned.

What seems to be missed by people is this idea that there are “choices”. When it comes right down to it, there really aren’t. Sure there are choices that you make like, I like the whopper better than I like the Big Mac. I like the Red Sox, I don’t like the Yankees. What house I’m going to buy, yea, maybe. When it comes right down to it, like it or not, the real choices are in God’s hand. We are either in His will or we are separated from His will.

That doesn’t mean we sit and obsess if we really can’t discern God’s will. A lot of times in my life, I can honestly say that I knew what His will was/is, and He made it very plain how I should follow it. At other times, I did the best I could, put it in prayer and trusted Him that what i was doing was the way He wanted. I can’t say that I was always right or that I did it faithfully, that I did it according to His will. Sometimes, frankly, I have to admit I didn’t even take His will into account. Seemed obvious, jumped in and then afterwards realized that I should have given it more time, more work, more consideration. As in anything in humans, we’re just not going to be perfect. We do the best we can to pull it together, to execute the plan and then leave it in His hands. Sometimes it doesn’t work because He wanted us to do it and He used it to His own will, even if it seemed that it wasn’t such a good deal to us. “ESV Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” [Bible Works]

I am trying to write, that for those who pursue this attitude, that God is somehow unfair, because many go to Hell, Jesus made it very clear that many would chose to ignore Him, that they would chose their own path: ” ESV Matthew 7:13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” [Bible Works]
Dr Martin Luther in his book Bondage of the Will addresses the idea that there is “free-will” in terms of our salvation. The idea that we are in some way “free agents”. The only way that works is God’s way in Jesus. Any “free-will” is purely from Satan and puts the individual on the path of destruction.

Luther writes: “You describe the power of ‘free-will’ as small, and wholly ineffective apart from the grace of God [Luther’s NB – As in those who lack grace (special grace, I mean) reason is darkened but not destroyed so it is probable that their power of will is not wholly destroyed, but has become ineffective for upright actions.’] Agreed? Now then, I ask you: if God’s grace is wanting, if it is taken away from that small power, what can it do? It is ineffective, you say, and can do nothing good. So it will not do what God or His grace wills. Why? Because we have now taken God’s grace away from it, and what the grace of God does not do is not good. Hence it follows that ‘free-will’ without God’s grace is not free at all, but is the permanent prisoner and bondslave of evil, since it cannot turn itself to good…it is ineffective apart from God’s grace, straightway you rob it of all its power. What is ineffective power but (in plain language) no power? So to say that ‘free-will’ exists and has power, albeit ineffective power, is, in the Sophists’ phrase, a contradiction in terms. [Luther’s NB – oppositum in adiecto]” p 104

“…that we do everything of necessity, and nothing by ‘free-will’; for the power of ‘free-will’ is nil, and it does no good, nor can do, without grace … The term ‘free-will’ is too grandiose and comprehensive and fulsome. People think it means what the natural force of the phrase would require, namely, a power of freely turning in any direction, yielding to none and subject to none. If they knew that this was not so, [p 105] and that the term signifies only a tiny spark of power, and that utterly ineffective in itself, since it is the devil’s prisoner and slave,…” [p 106]

“…However, with regard to God, and in all that bears on salvation or damnation, he has no ‘free-will’, but is a captive, prisoner and bondslave, either to the will of God, or to the will of Satan.” [p 107]

You have either stopped resisting what God is doing to you and are chosen by Him to be your Lord, or your right where you are because you have resisted the Holy Spirit and simply want to wallow in where you are. If you aren’t in Jesus, you are already condemned. While you continue to assert your own will, to think it’s all about you, that you are the master of your own fate, then it’s just another way for Satan to assert his control over you. If you come to the realization, that God is in control, that it really isn’t about you, that it’s all about what the Holy Spirit is doing in you, then you are saved.

Once we accept that it is about God and His will, that what we do outside His will is separation from God, that separation is Hell, is condemnation. There is no will for salvation other than God’s. Anything is the path to destruction. Separation from God is Hell.

In Revelation 12: 7-17 and 13:5-8 God has removed His hand from earth, Basically He has said that this is the end, that there is no more grace and man is left to his own devices. Honestly, how do you really think that’s going to work out? I know there are times when things look crazy and out of control, but God is still very much in control. The difference will be very obvious when Satan rules and there will then be unrestrained evil. We like to think we are somehow able to conduct ourselves properly, but when God removes His hand, when God simply allows us to do our own will, is there any doubt that the outpouring of evil, of violence, of greed will be absolutely stupefying? Is there really any doubt in anyone’s mind that when God has removed the Holy Spirit, when Satan rules that there will be unrestrained evil? This is what those who reject God will have, what they’ve accepted, there will be survival of the fittest. They don’t want God’s control, His blessing, although they think they’re entitled to the benefits of His blessing. They don’t realize what unrestrained evil is and they’ve shown that they really don’t care. And we’ve all met people that fill that bill, there are those who are obvious and the rest, not so obvious.

God is good, God is perfectly Holy. Being in a downtown church, being in the inner-city, albeit a small city, there are still lots of people who will knock on the church door and expect that I will just hand over money to them. In more subtle ways, there are plenty of people out there who have the same attitude, they expect God to hand over everything, including salvation on their terms. Then they will accuse God of not being “good” because He won’t save them! God is perfectly good, not according to our individual agenda (let’s face it, there’s God’s agenda, then there’s yours. In the end, which one do you really think is going to win out?)

God is perfectly good, perfectly holy, perfectly all knowing, all powerful, transcendant beyond anything that we can understand. Your agenda is just not going to be perfectly good, come on, it’s going to be covered in sin, if not completely submerged. It’s all of us, we are all completely unredeemed sinners and the only way to redemption is through Christ, The Son of God. God certainly does have an agenda, He revealed it, in His revelation, the Bible. We look to God for Him to guide us in how we fit in that agenda. Not our way, but His. Certainly that agenda is different for different people. If you are a great Christian mom, or Christian office worker, or Christian soldier/sailor, or Christian plumber, Christian factory worker, does that not serve God? We are put where we are at to serve God to the best of our ability, to be the best Christian factory worker we can as a witness to those around us to Jesus. We like to think that it’s all about us, it’s all about our control. Let’s face it the more you try to assert control, the more you realize that you just don’t have control. You can keep wrestling with God over it or figure out that it is all about Him and not about you. When we stop resisting the leading of the Holy Spirit and surrender to His will, when we are concerned about God’s agenda and not ours, when you trust His control, His will, and operate our life accordingly, It may not be “easy”, but it will be much easier then struggling against God.

In the Fullness of Time Galatians 4: 4-7 First St Johns December 28, 2014

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who know the perfect timing of God said … AMEN

Under the heading: “There is no such thing as “coincidences” where God is concerned, for that matter anything, since God is concerned with everything about our lives, we read Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Galatian’s four short verses are loaded with teaching. Paul’s quote in Galatians 4 is particularly interesting: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son … to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons … you are no longer a slave, but a son,…”(Gal 4: 4-7)

The part that of find of interest right here is “…the fullness of time…” Some think that had something to do with Mary coming to term in her pregnancy, or something that was dictated by Joseph and Mary’s situation. But most see Paul’s short expression as an appreciation and understanding of how God does things in His time and dictates the course of events and history according to His will. The Father didn’t turn to the Son one day and for just any old reason say, “yeah, think it’s about time we do the incarnation thing.” This had been the plan since the beginning, He chooses to reveal that plan to us, first, in Genesis 3:15, at the very beginning and then just before He throws the switch to make it happen, the Father reaffirms His plan, in an even plainer way in Isaiah 9:6. The Genesis passage, the proto-Evangelium, where God promises Satan that there would be a Savior, that the Messiah, anointed One of God, would come into the world to crush Satan’s head. God the Son would crush Satan’s head and by doing so, would save us from the curse of Hell. That sounds harsh, necessary, but in your face. However the Father’s promise to Isaiah is the one that is His majestic promise that He made when Judah is about to be crushed by Assyria and to disappear as a nation, most of her people killed or enslaved. Certainly a great crisis where Yahweh promises them; “A Child is born, A Son is given, Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” The Israelites knew that they were about to take a harsh and long-lasting beating and they needed this promise. Isaiah could have said the same thing Paul writes: “But when the fullness of time had come…”, because Israel had pushed too far for Yahweh and He was now about to let His people know what happens when they ignore Him and get too caught up in their own plans and expectations. The fullness of time had come and Israel, at least for a few generations, would cease to exist.

Paul on the other hand tells us that the “…fullness of time…” had just occurred for the Father to fulfill His promises to Adam and Eve, and to the people of Israel by Isaiah and it happened at this intersection of time. Although Paul didn’t know it, although Jesus prophesied it, this was the perfect time for God. While they were strolling away from the temple and the disciples were admiring the view of the buildings of the temple, Jesus took them to task and said “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” Don’t become to fascinated by the things man, in this case King Herod, build, because there is going to be another turning point in Israel’s history and this temple that you find so fascinating will be completely destroyed in just a few years. In about 40 years Israel, as you know it now, will cease to exist along with the temple. The Judaism of Israel would no longer be focused on the temple and would be scattered again. A new world would begin and the Christians in Israel would be forced to leave and take Christianity into the world.

This time, that Jesus had been born into, was the perfect time for Him to come into the world and conduct His incarnational ministry. It was a time of peace in Israel, Jesus did not have to contend with wars or any kind of famine or drought. He could get everyone’s full attention on His ministry and drive it deep into their awareness so that they could readily understand their new relationship with the Father. They had time to absorb the Gospel and begin to live it before they had to go into the world to spread the Gospel. They had to unlearn the legalism of Judaism and the debauchery of paganism and to come to understand that they were saved solely and completely by grace. They couldn’t earn their way to Christ in this world or to eternity, they could only be brought to salvation in Him and through His actions, what Jesus does to save us.

The conditions were exactly right for the disciples to absorb Jesus’ teaching and take those teachings into the world. Not only was there peace, the conditions surrounding them enabled them to bring Jesus to the world. As Lee Strobel points out: “The time period when Jesus lived was ideally suited for the spread of Christianity. The vast reach of the Roman Empire primed the known world for the gospel. Roman roads allowed relative ease of travel and greatly increased the area to which the gospel spread. Roman authority also helped protect travelers from robbers and attackers. Throughout the Roman Empire, Greek was the common language, and allowed communication of the gospel between groups who lived hundreds or thousands of miles from each other.”1

The Pax Romana, that is the peace of Rome, which united the entire world, enabled Jesus’ disciples to teach and preach without the distraction of wars or other disruptions to those they preached to. Jesus’ disciples could travel and teach without being abused because the Roman Empire tolerated many belief systems. Any earlier or later, and the disciples would be persecuted before Christianity could take root. At this time Christians could worship and evangelize unmolested. God created the conditions through man, mostly the Romans, so that He could send His Son into the world to preach God’s Word and Will and so that His church would grow. The church of Jesus Christ might otherwise have been steamrolled or isolated to small parts of the world. Jesus’ appearance met other promises of prophecy. Strobel writes: “God fulfilled his prophesied time frame. Daniel predicted that the Anointed One would come and would be ‘cut off’ (killed) before the destruction of Jerusalem and the second temple (Daniel 9: 24-26).”

From Paul’s writing we can see the sovereignty of God, that is God controls and is Lord of all that He has created. He planned and controlled human history so that at just the perfect time in that history His Son would appear and become the focus of the entire world. The world had never been brought together as it had under the Roman Empire and in a couple of hundred years it would be shattered and different peoples would be separated from each other, unable even to communicate. God controls the events of the world, which He does, although He permits man, because of His sin, to spread war and sickness and famine throughout the world. Then clearly God controls those who He has chosen to be Lord of their lives. For myself there is no doubt that God chose the perfect time for me to know Jesus as my Savior. Because you are here, baptized, listening to His Word, about to take His Body and Blood, He has chosen you at just the right time to be saved in Jesus.

Strobel writes: “ God had an appointed day when he would intersect human history with the promised redemption. The moment in history when Jesus arrived was tailored for the rapid spread of the Gospel. All human history is balanced on the fulcrum of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.”2 God gives us the understanding we need in order to know Him as our Father and Jesus as our Savior, and when we see it in human history, we can better understand how He works in our own personal lives. Take some time over the next week and think about how “..in the fullness of time…” God the Father, Abba, has made us His own sons and daughters that Paul writes about in this passage.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin.

1Lee Strobel The Case for Christ Study Bible p 1634

2Ibid p 1634

Fear is so crippling, so limiting, such a waste to live.

FEAR!!! Fear of failure, of the future, of change, of growing older and either being injured, sick or disabled, or losing physical ability. Fear drives our desperate attempts to keep what we have and never trying to move and grow. If we attempt to move and grow we might risk what we have. Fear of trying church, of taking a chance to follow Jesus, not committing but at least trying, trusting a friend, family or pastor and just giving worship a chance.

Jesse Thomas in “Triathlete Magazine” (May 2014 pp 40-42) talks about the fear, as a professional triathlete of that day when he (or his wife Lauren, also a professional triathlete) will suffer a career ending injury or just realize that his abilities are not sufficient to remain an elite athlete. I participate (I hesitate to say compete, because while I wish I did, wouldn’t really be accurate) in triathlons. I certainly don’t make my living doing triathlons because I’d starve on a street corner. I’ve had all kinds of goofy “owwees”, left heel, plantar, both knees, serious cramps, right now sciatica, all eminently treatable, but when they happen the thought races through your brain, “oh no, this is it, I’ll never be able to …” Last season playing basketball in a church league, my left calf violently seized up. It was so severe that I was sure that I ruptured the achilles tendon, literally had to crawl off the basketball floor. Turned out to be a bad cramp, found a way to contend with cramps, haven’t had another and it’s going on a year now. But I remember thinking as I crawled off that floor, “this is it”, the fear was very compelling.

Thomas points out “”Ninety-five percent of the time our ailments and injuries evaporate within in a week.” And that’s been my experience, but approaching the big “60”, my physical abilities continue to decrease and the better chance that something will happen that will keep me from a high level of participation. Certainly with a professional like Jesse Thomas the fear has to be more profound. l’m a pastor my most visible function is to preach, if I somehow couldn’t speak properly anymore that would certainly put my future as a pastor in jeopardy. “…I’d be SUPER BUMMED”, writes Thomas, “in all caps for emphasis. And even though the risk is remote, I think the weight of that possibility is why my brain instantly goes to the darkest place in moments of doubt. It’s like trying to speed by a black hole without getting sucked in. According to Stephen Hawking, that’s impossible, no matter what your bike split is.”

We are all there, we all have that fear, it certainly does happen but it is rare. The possibility of such an occurrence is something that is supposed to be provided for by society, it’s certainly being abused in this day and age, but for those people with character, integrity, trust in God, and looking to live life they do not want to be “disabled”, they will fight tooth and nail against it.

There is an issue, those of us of want to keep going, are giving in to a different type of sin(s); fear, failure, relying on ourselves/idolatry, lack of faith. It also keeps us from living at the level we should be living: “So this ritualistic thinking about an athletic ending is just a way to acknowledge that fear, no matter how remote the chance that it actually materializes and to acknowledge that stupid trick that the mind can play on us. [I would interject, it’s more about our pride, more than us being victimized by our mind – Jim] And by acknowledging it [I’d say pride] we can stop our minds from dragging us into a fear cycle, make the conscious choice to disregard it and proceed in pursuit of the goal despite the possibility of failure. In that way, we CAN speed by the black hole. Where you at now, Stephen Hawking?” I would attribute Thomas’ claim not to my determination, but to the faith that God gives me to trust in Him and follow where He leads even when it might seem hopeless. He overcomes my fear, gives me the faith I need and then pushes me back to confront the world, but He is always with me.

Now the reality is that at some point I’m going to just be too old or disabled to toe up on a beach somewhere and jump in the water with a bunch of other people. (You have no idea how difficult that was to write), so then what? Could stay home, sit and bemoan my fate and just give up. I like Thomas’ perspective: “Acknowledging that worst-case-scenario, fear, also helps both Lauren and I realize that even if the ‘worst’ happened (our careers ended) in the grand scheme of things, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal… Lauren and I would have to find other professions, we’d be forced to not exercise all day, every day and not go to bed at 8 pm on Saturday night because we have a big session Sunday morning. As terrible as that sounds, nobody dies, we won’t starve… We will go on as a family and probably thoroughly enjoy the next phase of our lives. And after the sting of the disappointment wears off, we’d realize that the journey was all worth it anyway,” Absolutely, we’ve lived the life, we’ve gotten all we’re likely to get out of it, God has taught us what He wants us to learn from it and now it’s time to move on. For sure I won’t like it, yea my ego and dignity will take a hit. But then He moves me on. Thomas doesn’t address the ultimate time when it will really be over, our culture today is pretty sure that death happens to everyone else, not to us. For Christians death will mean the resurrection, put in our perfected bodies, that will never be sick, will never break down, will be perfect for ever. It won’t be over, it will just be starting. I have no doubt that I will actually be able to complete an Ironman Triathlon in the resurrection. Even in eternity I will never be able to do all that the new, very physical world offers, but I will never have that fear, even if I fail, I will have infinite opportunities to grow, develop and go back and start again.

But the thing I will never understand is this fear of ever even trying because you might fail. Bad news, you will!!! Deal with it, get over it and yourself, decide what you’re going to do about it and move on. Fear of trying, like ya worship, making excuses, keeping the mediocre and even destructive and passing on what truly gives life, what truly moves us in life, what is truly life and life more abundant, I just don’t understand. This world is not the answer, it’s only a stage, it will end, do you want it to end with you whining in fear and failure, hidden away some where, to ultimate destruction? Or do you want to live the life God has given us, to live to His glory and then move on to a life that, ya there will still be failure, but it’s OK, it’s perfect life and life with abundant opportunities to succeed and move on in life? Ya, seems rather obvious doesn’t it? So why are you still sitting there obsessing?