Tag Archives: servant

Mutual submission like husband and wife applies to rulers and citizens

Continuing our study in God at Work by Dr Gene Veith. Dr Veith examines the different vocations, callings, of the average Christian and right now our group is talking about “Calling as a Citizen”. As Dr Veith points out we are called to be good citizens in Romans 13. Despite the contemporary nonsensical propaganda, Christians are higher in the demographics as “good citizens”. Quick reminder, there are those who consider themselves “Christian”, but when you see the “fruits of their works”, i.e. church attendance, service, Bible study, prayer, groups, a lot of people talk a good game, and they’re something, but not Christian. This is evidenced by a lot of current research and by the hard cold fact that we are called to spiritual disciplines in the Bible and way too many today just disregard it.

So let’s be serious here, quit quibbling, there are those who are faithfully trying to live the Christian life and as part of that they strive to be good citizens.

Now, having said, that, as I often say, there is nothing in the Bible that says either God is to be stupid or we are. Of course one of the first objections to this idea of submitting to rulers is “guys like Hitler and Stalin?” No! Certainly the early Christian church had crackpot rulers. Nero and Caligula jump immediately to mind. All Roman citizens, Christians included, were required to “burn incense as a way to acknowledge the divinity of the Emperor”. Dr Veith refers to those who continue to witness to Christ in countries that legally forbid Christian evangelizing. Certainly Moslem countries, but secular states like China, Vietnam, Cuba, North Korea also persecute Christians for worship, witnessing, public prayer.

Dr Veith writes: “It is clearly not the calling of a ruler to oppress his people. his purpose, again, is to love and serve his neighbors – that is, his subjects. A good ruler will thus be one who works for their good.” (Dr Gene Veith God at Work p 105). This can obviously be subjective, I don’t like the ruler of Moldovia, so as a citizen I can see how he’s not serving the way I think he should. Well no! You may not think he is serving the public good, because it’s not your good, but unless he is actively persecuting, or making demands that a Christian, in general, would have to conscientiously refuse, he is serving the public good. He may not be doing it well, but he still has to be obeyed. That goes for providing physical protection for our persons and our property.

Now if the ruler makes laws that single out and penalize groups, e.g. requiring people to honor this leader like a “god”, somewhat the situation Dietrich Bonhoeffer was with Hitler, or the Roman Emperor Decius, the one who required incense to be burned as a sacrifice to himself. Christians refused, First Commandment, there is no other “god”, then God the Father. Pope Fabias and Alexander of Jerusalem, among many other Christians refused and were put to death. So no, we can’t get all Moral Majority and decide what is or isn’t acceptable unless it truly conflicts with our biblical understanding. However, we are called to disobey when we are called to violate something that would articulably be proscribed in the Bible. Such as the Christian doctor who refuses to perform an abortion. Bear in mind, as was the case with those who refused to burn incense, there is often a penalty. That we are prosecuted or harassed,as the disciples were, they were joyful that they were honored to suffer for Christ. It’s not a dishonor to suffer for Christ, but it will still be suffering and probably hold you up to public abuse. Spouses are called to mutually submit and serve, I think you could certainly make the case the if rulers are not being submissive and serving for the general good, then they are “acting outside of their vocation”.

Let’s talk about it some more, Wednesday mornings 10:30am. The coffee shop at the corner of Beaver and W King Sts in York, Pa. Parking is right behind the church walk about 50 yards east to the coffee shop. If you come for the first time, I will even buy you coffee.

Freedom is only Jesus, Reformation 2015 Lutheran Church Missouri Synod

This was such a great writing on All Saints Day and Reformation Day that I just had to add it to my blog site – Jim Driskell

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

October 31 at 4:00pm ·

HOMILY FOR THE FESTIVAL OF THE REFORMATION

By 1520 the storm he’d stirred up was threatening to become a tsunami engulfing all the Western Church. He still didn’t seem to have the first clue about the threat he’d proven to be to Church officials and he thought that if the pope himself just heard of this joy that was now his, all would come out okay. So he pens a little book and dedicates it, of all things, to Pope Leo X from his dutiful servant, Martin Luther. And as he thought how to encapsulate everything he’d been rejoicing in, it came down to two statements that sounded contradictory but were in fact completely complimentary.

The Christian is perfectly free, lord of all, subject to none.
The Christian is perfectly dutiful, servant of all, subject to all.

The opening lines of Luther’s monumental The Freedom of the Christian. And that work remains to this day the classic statement of the joyful “aha” that resulted in the Lutheran Reformation and which, I would suggest to you, people loved by God, is the reason why being Lutheran still matters and why almost five centuries later, the Reformation remains vitally important for the Church today.

It was and it is all about freedom. God doesn’t want slaves. He renounces the way of coercion. He seeks children who serve Him freely and in joy and not cringing in terror and fear. You hear it in today’s third reading. Our Lord says “If you continue or abide in my Word, you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

Freedom is what He came to bring! Freedom was His gift. Not like folks think of freedom these days, meaning: “I can do whatever I want whenever I want to.” Live like that and you’ll soon find out that it’s not freedom at all; it’s the way to end up a slave to your own passions, appetites and desires. Your Lord came to free you from that dead end way of living.

But to promise and deliver freedom, that requires owning up to bondage, and this is exactly what the Jews in the Gospel or even the Church in Luther’s day, couldn’t stomach. “Free? What do you mean set us free? We aren’t slaves. We are children of Abraham and have never been anyone’s slaves. What do you mean we shall be set free?”

Similarly the hierarchy in those days: We are the CHURCH! What do you mean blathering on about this freedom? What’s important is that YOU knuckle under and do as you’re told. Who do you think you are?

Luther’s joyous answer, of course, was “Me? I’m a perfectly free Lord of all; oh, and a perfectly dutiful servant of all. Sent to be a servant of other’s joyful freedom. In the service of the Master who came to make free children of God and no slaves.”
The Jews had their laws that they thought MUST be upheld, obeyed, and it was in the obedience to them that they focused their zeal and placed their hope of salvation. DOING the bidding of the God who had taken them as His own people through Abraham was their duty and their calling.

But the God of Abraham is the God of freedom and the God who desires children, not slaves. That’s why He had TAKEN them out of slavery in Egypt and why He had given them the divine worship and promises. And the Law itself. A gift given. A gift given to show them their real slavery from which they could never themselves free no matter how hard they strove.

They wouldn’t see it, though. And so Jesus speaks the hard word: “Whoever commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave doesn’t continue in the house forever.” Sin isn’t something you DO, Jesus says. It’s far, for more insidious than that. Sin is a force. A power. A domineering power. A power that enslaves.

You know its path. You know how it goes. You know it entices you. Try it. It can’t hurt. Everyone’s doing it. No biggy. And how the very taste of it is seduction and the seduction becomes addiction. You fight. You pull back. But you also want. You want the experience again. And again. And even after it has long since ceased to satisfy. Still you go back. Like the dog to its vomit. The vomit it calls and you find yourself unable to turn away. Disgusting, yes. But isn’t it true, people loved by God? Isn’t that the path? The way it works? Sin snares you, and once it has you, you can’t break free by any effort of your will. You can try with might and main, but you know as surely as I’m standing here before you, it HAS you. You are slave.

And there is NOTHING so uncertain as the place of the slave. Sin wants to use you, to trample on you and torture you and then to hand you over to death. Eternal death. “The wage sin pays is death.” A taskmaster, no friend. A tyrant, no freedom. Do it again and again and again, as sin mocks your helplessness.

BUT into this world came the one in whom sin couldn’t get its claws. Into this world where everyone serves sin in some way or another, tortured and helpless, caught in the snares of their own desires, into this world came one who was truly FREE. And free because He was the Son. His place in His Father’s house didn’t depend for one second on what He did or didn’t do. His place was assured because of who He was. And because He was free and Son, what did He come to do?

He came to serve! No one is so free as the One who serves, whose delight and joy it is to be able to serve the captives by setting them free from their bondage, free from their chains, and inviting them into His relationship with the Father. So free that He could even take all the sins that master and torture and torment you and lift them off you and bear them in His own body. In His own FREE body where they could never bend Him to their will and so destroy them there forever.

Behold, the cross! Behold the blood of the free Son, freely poured out so that sin would lose its mastery over you and you be forgiven, adopted, brought into the freedom of the children of God.

He came forth from the Father one free Son, but He goes back to the Father bringing with Him the fruits of His labor. Not a pile of slaves. Not a pile of cringing and fearful hirelings who have no clue how long they’ll be tolerated before God finally is fed up with them and tosses them out. No. He comes back with free children of God. Freed by the Words He spoke. Free indeed. Sins no longer able to accuse them, to master them, to make them come when called. Sins blood covered and forgiven. Death no longer the fate to which their sin hands them over when it’s done with them. Death rather with a resurrection sized hole blown right through its stinking belly through which they will pass with Him. Free children. So completely free that all of the faith has come to them as GIFT. They see it all as GIFT. Nothing about what we earn or deserve. Only gifts given lavishly and freely. The Father gives the Son. The Son gives the Spirit. The Spirit gives you faith that binds you to the Son and the Son rejoices to present you to the Father. All gift.

And so Christianity to be seen in its true light must never be thought of as rules and laws and a frowning God just waiting for you to step out of line so He can wallop you one and torture you forever. Nor is it about the freedom to live in your broken shackles and sin’s crumbled prison holds. That’s not freedom! It’s the freedom to leave that prison forever and be a child. A child in the house of the Father. It is to realize that the standing you could never achieve for all your struggling against sin’s chains is the very gift God gives you in His Son that crushes those chains forever.

Easter triumph! Easter joy!
This alone can sin destroy!
From sins’ power, Lord, set us free,
Newborn souls in you to be.
Alleluia!

HERE is the Reformation gift to the whole Church. This is why Lutheranism stands and will continue to stand. We remind the world that the Son’s gift to us is freedom. And that our faith isn’t founded in, let alone shored up by, rules and regulations. Holy days of obligation and fasting from certain foods at prescribed times. Going to communion at least once a year and only after having made confession of your sins to the priest. Do you see what all of that is? Bondage! Not freedom!

BUT the Reformation was so free that it realized that what the law couldn’t guard or preserve, this was God’s free gift. “If you abide in my Word” our Lord said. Why Sunday? Why gather? Not to keep some law, but to receive the gift of freedom! Why receive the Sacrament? Not to fulfill a duty, but receive the gift of freedom! Why observe the Church calendar? Not to be religious, but to let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly as it gives its gifts of freedom and lifts you by the Spirit to the freedom of the children of God.
Reformation still matters because freedom still matters. It matters to God, who would have you not be a servile and fearful, simpering cowering slave, but would have you be a royal son or daughter, a true child of the King who fears nothing at all.

Late, late in his life, Luther reflected on this great joy. It was during an Advent sermon only a couple months before his death. He preached: “It is well with a man who belongs to an eternal kingdom. He can dance through life forevermore!” You and me too. We can dance through life. For we are children of the King, and sisters and brothers of the Son of God, and to us all, and I mean all, is gift. Happy Reformation, people loved by God, happy feast of freedom! You have been set free. Amen.

– William Weedon, Chaplain

Photo credit: The Town and Parish Church of St. Mary’s on Tuesday, May 5, 2015, in Wittenberg, Germany. LCMS Communications/Erik M. Lunsford

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

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.

Acting Audaciously

Audacity will usually be rewarded. We started here at First St Johns at what was probably its lowest point in a history that dated back to 1875. We still have a long way to go and it’s certainly all about God’s will. The question remains as to how we may or may not end up, we could still very well not make it, but this church would be missed.
There is no doubt that we have made a mark, the test is, will the church be missed if it closes tomorrow? Without qualification I would say yes, that FSJ would be missed. Jim McClure the editor of the York Daily Record identified FSJ as a community outreach church, we have made a mark with the Food bank, employment group, Grief Share, NA, AA, prayer breakfast, workout area and of course the radio station has garnered an immense amount of attention.
Regardless, God has used us for His purposes, but it doesn’t mean He has to keep us here. I have learned that acting audaciously, doing things that appear to be over your capacity does get attention and does generate support. When things are happening, people will notice. They’re not going to notice a church that is just hiding behind its walls. When I started at FSJ I started walking around the neighborhood. When I told our neighbors who I was, they told me they thought FSJs had closed. Who is going to respond to a place they think is closed? But if they see activity, they see involvement, there’s at least a chance they will respond with physical and financial support. We’ve seen that happen at FSJs. If you are doing things to serve, to be a Christian disciple, people will provide money when they see that things are happening, that there is a level of excitement and we’ve seen that happening at FSJ.

It does make me wonder what so many churches are thinking when they seem to chose to passively conduct Christian ministry. Remember the “Parable of the Talents”? (Matthew 25:15-28 ESV) The “Master”, clearly God; Father, Son and or Holy Spirit (Matthew Henry says the Master was Jesus). The Master gives His servants 5, 2, and 1 talents to be used to enrich Him. A “talent” was about a 100 pounds of silver, in today’s value that would be about $2,000., certainly not an inconsequential amount, especially for the first servant who is given about $10,000. The first servant takes the $10,000, entrusted to him and what does he do? Brings another $10,000. Good job! Right? “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'” (Matt 25:21)
The second servant takes the two talents he’s given, brings back $4,000. Not too shabby, I’d sure like to find out what they invested in. But the third servant just returns the one talent he was entrusted with???? Wha…. What’s the point? What good is that? And yet there are plenty of churches out there who somehow think that they are serving the Lord. They’re not, they’re just serving each other. Matthew quotes Jesus as saying: “You wicked and slothful servant!” Pretty strong! But was the servant there just to hide the money and return it to his Master? Anyone can do that, he was there to serve his Master and he was “afraid” and chose to just run away from his responsibility. So it is with so many of these dying churches.
There are the churches that are dying, the churches that aren’t going to burn out, but rust out. They sit around bemoan their fate, maybe do some bake sales, or find a few children to have a VBS for, then they go back, carefully count their pennies, agree that if they’re careful and no serious problems they may make it another year and then go and do the same uninspired, unexciting things they’ve been doing and only that. They sit around and wonder why no one else is interested in being a part of their church. How do they really expect that God is calling to call them “good and faithful servants”? Why on earth would God send someone there to be discipled? Discipled to what? Sitting around with a lack of faith and service and hope that you can hide from reality?  How are they really serving, except, maybe, each other, just returning to God what He gave them, in fact if anything, not even what they were given. Why on earth would anyone think that God is going to bless and encourage that kind of attitude?
The flip side, so it appears to me now, is that you do things that do attract attention, you get people involved in things. Sure they may not work out or are as successful as they should be. Servant 3 would take that as a reason not to do that activity, or anything else for the duration. FSJ takes that and says, “ok, how do we make it better? What should we have done before…” and we start again.
Now, the radio station thing? Pure nuts, right? But it has generated attention and even given us entree to people and groups that we would never have had any opportunity to go to otherwise. People have seen what’s happened, they have moved on faith to support us, encouragement, prayers, financially etc. They have been a part of something they’re proud of, that their neighbors see in the newspaper, hear about in other places, they hear exciting plans and opportunities. Hopefully they get involved and of course it generates more interest, support and activity in the church.
You know what? We may not be around in another year, wouldn’t be the first, won’t be the last organization not to make it. But if we don’t make it, there will be a lot of people who will say; “what a shame, they did a lot of good stuff… hmmm, what could we do to help them get back into the game?…”
Conversely Servant 3 closes the door and not with a bang, but with a whimper and nary a person notices. No one was served, no one grew or was encouraged. Nothing was done to get people excited or involved, just poof, no one showed up for worship the next Sunday and really no one else noticed or cared.
Could be compared to a human, the one who slowly kills themselves through selfishness and bad habits and the bad habits; cancer, obesity, cardio, pulmonary, diabetes, liver disease on and on and they finally die. And the person who pushes themselves in one more triathlon and gloriously just drops right there on the course. Both knew they had a chance to die and one chose to just keep to himself and die a lonely, miserable death. The other one decided, one quick blaze of glory. Who wouldn’t want the blaze of glory? You’ve served others, you’ve made yourself a better person for your spouse, children, family, friends and they will remember you and may even live by your example. You’ve lived and served as a true disciple of Jesus. There are plenty of Christian servants who maybe didn’t “succeed”, but the results of their service will be, is, known by God and will be rewarded. The other? Doesn’t inspire in the least, is really seen as just miserable and even pathetic and no one misses them for an instant.
When we are being Servant 1 and are doing great things for the Kingdom, being faithful, being audacious, faithful to God’s will but crazy to the world, we may not be around next year, but we will be missed. Yea I’d rather do it the FSJ’s way.

We serve our God who serves us in His will Mark 10: 32-45 First St Johns Mar 22, 2015

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 they are  sons and daughters of the Father said … AMEN!!!

Dear Ma & Pa,
Am well. Hope you are. Tell brother Walt & brother Elmer the Marine Corps beats working for old man Minch by a mile. Tell them to join up quick before maybe all of the places are filled.
I was restless at first because you got to stay in bed till nearly 6 a.m., but am getting so I like to sleep late. Tell Walt & Elmer all you do before breakfast is smooth your cot and shine some things. No hogs to slop, feed to pitch, mash to mix, wood to split, fire to lay. Practically nothing.
Men got to shave but it is not so bad, they git warm water. Breakfast is strong on trimmings. Like fruit juice, cereal, eggs, bacon, etc…, but kind of weak on chops, potatoes, ham, steak, fried eggplant, pie, and other regular food. But tell Walt & Elmer you can always sit between two city boys that live on coffee.
Their food, plus yours, holds you till noon, when you get fed again. It’s no wonder these city boys can’t walk much. We go on “route” marches, which the Platoon Sergeant says are long walks to harden us. If he thinks so, it is not my place to tell him different. A “route march” is about as far as to our mailbox at home. Then the city guys gets sore feet and we all ride back in trucks. The country is nice, but awful flat.
They don’t bother you none. This next will kill Walt & Elmer with laughing. I keep getting medals for shooting. I don’t know why. The bulls-eye is near as big as a chipmunk and don’t move. And it ain’t shooting at you, like the Higgett boys. All you got to do is lie there all comfortable and hit it. You don’t even load your own cartridges.
Be sure to tell Walt & Elmer to hurry & join before other fellers get into this setup & come stampeding in.

Your loving daughter, Gail[1]

It is kind of a matter of perspective, here you have John and James, they have been in the presence of the Lord for three years now, they really don’t appreciate what they have, they seem to think that it’s just straight up ok to go to God the Son: “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” I mean wow, right up front pretty obnoxious!? It’s as if they weren’t even listening. Didn’t Jesus just tell them what would happen to Him? I’m going to be turned over to be killed, that’s bad, but then I will rise, that’s great! What’s their response? Hey we want you to do this for us Jesus. Gail appreciates where she’s been, even in Marine Corps boot camp. She thinks her new life is just terrific. James and John, they seem to forget where they’ve been, they seem to think they’re entitled to an upgrade in life. Yea, I know we’ve all been there, we all want better. But too often it’s our idea of “better” and we just ignore God’s idea.

John and James, like the rest of the disciples, frankly, like too many of us, still have not gotten the idea, it’s not about them and what they get, it’s about what God has for our lives. As it says in your bulletin: “Our old, sinful selves still sometimes want Jesus to be like a genie in a bottle who will give us three wishes rather than a Lord and Savior who has forgiven our sins.” It really comes down to this; as Christians who are in charge of our lives, who do we serve? Is it all about me? Or is it all about our brothers and sisters in Jesus and ultimately/most importantly about Jesus? About Him who sacrificed and suffered everything in order to serve us? He really does serve us, He gave us our relationship with the Father, He fulfills our hope of life – life eternal, we know all those in the world who are without hope, we have the promise, we know we don’t have to jump through hoops to have what we hope for. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,” (Eph 2:8). Sola Gratia, grace alone that is given to us because of what Jesus did for us. We couldn’t do anything to earn that if we wanted to. What could we possibly add to what Jesus did for us? We are baptized in the Name of the Triune God. Jesus saved us and He gives us the grace, the faith to know that we’ve been saved. All this is done for us, through nothing that we’ve done. Paul goes on in Eph 2:9 “not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

The motto of my first undergraduate college was “…not to be served, but to serve..”, This is an old public college, in liberal Massachusetts, I didn’t know what that motto was about when I went there and I’d bet pretty much no one else, student, teacher, staff knew where it was from. Jesus promised to serve us, He did and He continues to.

Private Gail, she’s serving, she’s in the Marines, while she serves, she appreciates how much that she has, how good life is. In the world we serve Satan/old man Minch. We may not see it, but he is cruel, merciless and at some point he will drop the hammer on those who are not in Jesus. This might be a little weird, but the Marines, being kind of like Jesus? May seem hard, but to us who have lived in the world and know the harshness of the world, Jesus tells us: “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:30) Let’s appreciate what Jesus has done, let’s hear what He has to say and not just push through with our agenda. The world/old man Minch, will only serve us at a price and it’s a pay me now and pay me later. With Jesus He lived, died, served, for John and James, all for we who are His and for all eternity.

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

We serve our neighbors in service to God

We’ve been talking about vocation in many ways at our Wednesday Coffee Break Bible study. Certainly our vocation in terms of our job, profession, position. Position can mean many different things in terms of our spouse, children, parents, siblings. Our position in the community. Any responsibility we hold in the church, on and on. Positions God puts us in, in His service, but to serve others. I’m sure we recognize that God doesn’t need our service per se. Jesus has done all that is necessary, and God sustains us in every way. We are in His service for what we do for ourselves and for others.

I serve by working to better myself in every possible way nutrition, exercise, study things that are edifying. We are in His service when we serve our neighbors. Surely God puts us into situations where our service to a neighbor would be pleasing to Him. In fact I would hope that we would do works to glorify Him, that others may know that what I did was a result of what God does to me and through me. So anything I do for another is only a result of the Holy Spirit in me.

Henry and Richard Blackaby “Experiencing God Today”, p 122: “God deserves our love and He demands that we love others in the same way He does.” And yes, I will say it again God’s love is of genuine concern for what is best for another, not this phoney, empty enabling love we think of today. What is in that person’s best interests and not ours. Believe me that is hard to do but that is the goal we need to strive for. Heck, in today’s world, anyone who even approaches that is doing more than anyone expects.

The Blackabys spell this out: “We are to love our spouses, not as they deserve, but as God commands (Eph 5: 22-33). We are to treat our friends, not as they treat us, but as Christ loves us (John 13:14). We are to labor at our jobs, not in proportion to the way our employer treats us, but according to the way God treats us. God is the One we serve (Eph 6:5).”

“Mediocrity and laziness have no place in the Christian’s life. Christians must maintain integrity at home and in the workplace… Our toil then becomes an offering to God. We not only worship God at church on Sunday, but our labor throughout the week is an offering of worship and thanksgiving to the One who has given us everything we have.”

How many times have you seen someone decide that they’re just not treated fairly and they do what amounts to be stupid things to strike back? And we all know how that works out. It bites them, it brings them a bad reputation and if people know they are a Christian, it always puts Christians in a bad light. “Our” work is “our” work. We may be getting what we think is a bad deal, but doing work that doesn’t serve our neighbor and reflects poorly on Christ and Christian brothers and sisters really ends up only hurting the people who you’ve professed to be in fellowship with and the Father. Do we really want people to think we are all about shoddy, half baked service? Sure we aren’t always going to be great, but we should make our best effort to be as good as possible and never be perceived as “tanking the ball”. Someone will call us on it and we’re the one who looks bad in the end. That certainly should be our perspective in our work and no less in our family and our church.

Our efforts should even be thought of as an offering to God, not in the sense of earning anything or buying anything, but certainly in the sense of Thanksgiving.

Even when others fail us, refuse us, treat us poorly, we continue to serve because our service is always given in thanks to God. Take a break during the week, Wednesday mornings, the coffee shop at the corner of W King and Beaver Sts in downtown York, Pa.  10am, park behind the church. I will even buy you your first cup of coffee. No charge, no obligation.