For more information on Mt. Olive Evangelical Lutheran Church please visit our website.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
IN ATTENDANCE: Debra McCauley, Matt McCauley, Janet Frisch, Patty Davies, Ann
Emge, Rex Pagani, Kathy Brown, John Musser, Steve Peterson,
Marilyn Huber, Pastor Pingel, and Vicar Hoffman.
1) Ann Emge discussed some projects from the Education Team, which include: Sunday School snacks, the Children’s Program for the Christmas Party dinner and Movie Day on 12/23.
2) Patty Davies informed the Coat Drive was very successful with over 100 coats given away when members of the community came to our hall for coffee and donuts. 30 more were sent to the soup kitchen at Christ Lutheran in Beaver Falls. The Christian Alliance church will take the remainder for their Christmas dinner.
3) Kathy Brown informed that Julie Quay is the new Mentor Mom with MOPS.
On 1/31/09 they are planning a Crafts & Hostess Fair at the church as a fundraiser. Also, the Women’s Shelter has supplied us with tear off sheets with their phone # for any woman who may be in need of their help. These will be placed in the women’s bathrooms.
4) Steve Peterson reports the Stewardship meetings are ongoing. Also, Sherri Ludig did an immaculate audit of the church finances. A report is forthcoming.
5) Matt and Debra are planning the annual Chilli dinner for 1/24/09.
6) Vicar will be hosting the male jr.youth at this home, while his wife takes the female jr. youth out to the movies and dinner.
7) Janet Frisch voiced the need for more Telecare callers.
8) Rex Pagani announced the upcoming Marriage Encounter weekend will be rescheduled for another time, as no one signed up. It’s thought that this might just be a bad time of the year for such an event.
9) Pastor reported the Vicar’s roof is fully repaired. Also, Church Mutual is our new insurance company for all areas of the church. Pastor thanked all committees for all of the good teamwork. His new office is done and he is grateful and enjoying it. The Youth group is planning on hosting a servant event here…………more details to come. Pastor also informed counsel that he is performing appx. 7 hrs. a week in volunteer work as a mobile therapist for Northwestern Human Services.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Paul concludes chapter 4 and begins chapter 5 with this subject. He does this only after talking about how to live for Christ before he returns. I hope that you will see the connection between the The Second Coming and how we live today.
1) Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
What do you look forward to most in the Second Coming? For many, it is the reunion with the dead. 1 Thessalonians tells us that every one of the faithful will be accounted for. What a day that will be! However, we will also be reunited with the Lord, who we have only been able to touch and see in the Lord's Supper and the other means of grace. What will it mean for you to be reunited with Jesus Christ?
2) Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3
The term "like a thief in the night" is thrown around a lot when we talk about the nature of Jesus return. Paul uses these images to warn of the judgement that is to come. He did not want the church to become lax. What is the danger in forgetting that Jesus will come at an unknown time like a thief in the night?
The video below connects the term "like a thief in the night" to several disasters, including September 11th. Watch how the narrator makes this connection. Is it good to connect these disasters to specific verses in the Bible? Is this how we should reach out to the unchurched about the last day?
The Bible does say that there will be natural disasters and wars, and they will be signs that mark the end. It does not say which ones will mark the end! One the one hand every disaster should remind of us the end and the effects of sin in the world, but we cannot use these disasters to pinpoint Jesus' return. The Bible does not give specifics about them.
Since we live in the time of grace, God no longer deals with us out of his wrath. Jesus has taken on the fullness of God's punishment. Therefore, since we live in grace, we should reach out to the unchurched with grace. Instead, of using scare tactics about God's judgement; we should approach them with the promise of the Gospel. Point them to the end of suffering, the end of spiritual struggle, and the reunion with the dead. Let them know that God wants to save them on the last day. By faith they can take hold of these promises.
3) When Jesus returns we will be given new bodies. What does 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 tell us about our new bodies?
Thursday, November 6, 2008
1) We are saved by grace, not by obedience to the law. Are the Ten Commandments still important to Christians?
The answer is pretty simple. If a Christian is confused about how to live a life that pleases God, but they are not sure how; point them to the commandments. While we do not depend on obedience for salvation, the law still shows us our sin, and guides us in how to live. Not to mention that there are many other common sense benefits. (i.e. not murdering people is great for society.)
How would you teach the Ten Commandments to your children?
2) How does Jesus help us to live a holy life?
1 Thessalonians 1:5 mentions imitating Christ. After reading the devotion from the link above; how can imitating Christ help you live in a God-pleasing way?
3) In the last post, I posted a link on sanctification. Sanctification on a personal level, is the Holy Spirit bringing you to recieve God's grace, and empowering and guiding you to serve Christ.
Some denominations say that in order to prove that you have the holy Spirit you need to speak in tongues, or preform other miracles. How is that different from what we, as Lutherans, believe about the work of the Holy Spirit?
Read the story below:
Lutherans are cautious about speaking in tongues. It does not show that you are more sanctified than anyone else. It is not necessary to prove that you have the Holy Spirit, and it may not be edifying to the entire church. The article above showed the confusion that can be caused by putting a heavy emphasis on speaking in tongues over all of the other spiritual gifts.
Paul speaks clearly on this in 1 Corinthians 12 posted below:
The Holy Spirit helps us to overcome sin and the devil, as well as, giving us gifts to serve the Church. These gifts do not have to be spectacular or miraculous. They can be ordinary and everday things that do tremendous good.
What gifts do you have?
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
The program is designed to enhance the viability and health of marriages through the refinement of skills that sustain, improve and enrich relationships.
A trained facilitator will guide couples through a series of fun-filled activities and topics. A curriculum titled "Prepare and Enrich" will provide the framework. Topics such as: the effects of our family of origin; communication; conflict resolution; finance and goal setting and emotional and physical intimacy will be covered.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
1) At the end of Chapter 3 Paul prayed that the Thessalonians would be able to lead a pure life. Now Paul gives them more instructions on how to do so.
4:1-2 Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.
After we come to faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit starts working in us to overcome sin and make us more like Christ. We are saved by God's grace alone, but the Holy Spirit leads us to live a better and more holy life. After we are saved by God's grace the rest of our lives are spent growing in faith and knowledge. This is called sanctification.
Paul urges them on in their sanctification to by telling them to live for God more and more.
Read this link for more on sanctification:
How has the Holy Spirit helped you in your struggle with sin, in your time of prayer, or any other part of your life as a Christian?
2) Read 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 Paul condemns sexual impurity.
Sexual sin can trap us no matter where we are in our lives. As Christians we need to be on guard against this. Watch the video below, and see how Christ can help us to overcome and how his forgiveness can heal us.
3) In the next section, 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12, Paul warns against gossiping. Then he encourages every one to live quiet and humble lives.
How can gossip hurt you at home, work, school, or any other place?
What are some good ways to avoid gossip?
Thursday, October 23, 2008
1) In chapter 3 Paul mentioned that he sent Timothy to the Thessalonians to strenghten and encourage them in the faith. Paul was delighted to hear that the church in Thessalonica was thriving.
Let's take a moment to get to know Timothy:
-Timothy was the son of a Greek father, and Jewish mother.
-Timothy was converted while Paul was in Lystra.
-Timothy was circumcised by Paul in order to overcome barriers to his ministry to the Jews
-Timothy became Paul's "right hand man".
-Paul wrote 1 and 2 Timothy to...well...Timothy.
2)Timothy was sent to encourage the Thessalonians in their time of persecution. Is there anything that we could do to strengthen other Christians who are being persecuted?
Read the article below. It is from "The Voice of the Martyrs" website, and it describes their goals for a national day of prayer.
What do you think of this?
3) Read 1 Thessalonians 3:6-13
In verse 13 Paul wrote that it is important to be found blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Why is it important to be blameless if we are saved by faith alone?
First he prays that God would strengthen their hearts. He puts the emphasis on God making them holy. He is not implying that they can make themselves holy and blameless. He petitions God to purify their hearts for them.
The heart is where all of our motivations come from. If our hearts are filled with love we will serve others joyfully, and we will be blameless.
Please post any questions or comments below or you can email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org
(I have been having problems with my other email address.)
Thursday, October 16, 2008
1) Read 1 Thess. 2:13-16
13And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe. 14For you, brothers, became imitators of God's churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, 15who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men 16in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.
Paul writes about the persecution Christ and other prophets suffered. The Bible seems to show us a pattern in Acts that the apostles suffered. First they were threatened and arrested. Then they were flogged. Next, a few were murdered. Finally, it reached a full scale persecution of everyone. This happened in for the first Christians in Judea, now it was happening in Thessalonica. (Kuske, Thessalonians, Northwestern Publishing House, pg. 27.)
What would you do if you saw this pattern developing in our society?
2) How were the persecutors "heaping their sins up to the limit"?
There is a warning for all of us in Paul's words. We must take God and his Word seriously and reverently or else we will eventually despise God. Then we will be no better than the 1st Century Jewish leaders who persecuted the faithful.
Read the story from foxnews.com:
Are movies like this a form of persecution? Do you see any other forms of persecution in America?
3) Read 1 Thess. 3:5
For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent Timothy to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless.
In what ways would Satan use persecution to cause Christains to fall from faith?
How are we preotected form Satan? (Hint: B_ptism)
You guessed it! In our baptism we are rescued from the devil, and made to be children of God! While we may suffer for our faith, we know that our problems are only temporary.
27My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. 30I and the Father are one."
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Monday, October 13, 2008
So far the coat drive is going well. (This morning someone dropped off 25 coats!) However, we still have a long way to go. If you have any coats please bring them in. There are many who cannot afford a coat; or atleast, it would be a big help to them if they did not have to worry about finding a coat. We will take whatever size or shape of coat that is new or gently used.
Thank you for those who have brought in coats or who have helped in other ways. You have done a lot to provide for those who are in need!
The drive will continue through Friday 17th. If you haven't dug through your closet for a coat please do so. If you haven't told a friend about the coat drive please do so. Let's keep going to help as many as we can with a coat, and the gospel!
Thursday, October 9, 2008
In the last post we learned how Paul was a humble, but also bold pastor; claiming he was entrusted with the Gospel. He also treated the Thessalonians with the love that a parent would have for his children. Sunday, we will continue that theme of parental care, and move on to a couple of other characteristics. After that, it will be time for persecution!
1) Read chapter 2:8-12:
We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.
You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.
How does Paul show concern for the Thessalonians?
Paul says that he dealt with the Thessalonians as a father deals with his own children- Do you have anyone who has been a father to you in regard to your faith?
2) The first paragraph in the italicized section above describe Paul as hardworking and self-sacrificing. Paul was a tent maker by trade. He probably served as a missionary/ pastor during the day, and made tents at night.
What does this say about Paul's dedication to the Thessalonians?
What sacrifices can you make to spend more time serving God?
The link below shows us a humorous poster about sacrifice, but there is a point to it.
Paul did not always see the fruit of his efforts, and we might not either. Yet, God sees everything, and we know that he can do wonderful things through us. Plus, he gives us the Spirit to comfort us when it appears that our ministry is not getting a lot of results.
3) Persecution! In times of persecution Christians have clung to God's Word. Read 1 Thess 2:13-3:9
How would the Word of God help you if you were persecuted?
Below is a video from "Open Doors USA" I have never heard of this ministry before, but apparently they focus on sending aid to persecuted Christians. The video brings home a good point that there are many Christians who do suffer for their faith.
Please spend some time this week praying for your brothers and sisters in Christ who risk everything for their faith.
Please click on the bottom right to post any comments. You can post anonymously if you like! You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Thursday, October 2, 2008
This week we will go more in depth into the characteristics of a pastor; as well as, how Paul's relationship with the Thessalonian church can encourage us to minister to others.
1) If you spread the Gospel you will almost inevitably encounter criticism. This will happen whether you are a pastor or a factory worker, secretary, manager, etc... Read the verses below from 1 Thessalonians 2:1-4:
You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure. We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition. For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.
How does Paul handle criticism of his ministry?
How would you handle someone who criticized your efforts to share the Word of God with others?
Click on the link below and read te article about handling criticism in ministry. It is aimed at youth ministers, but the principles apply to everyone.
How does this article change your approach to criticism?
2) Read verse 4 again:
On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.
Paul claims a sacred trust with the Gospel. How would you describe this sacred trust? (Read Galatians 1:11-16)
Do Pastors today still have a sacred trust with the Word of God?
3) Read 1 Thessalonians 2:6b-9
As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.
Paul had to work very hard for his churches, just as Pastors today have a much to do.
How has a Pastor's work impacted your life?
What is a Pastor's chief responsibility?
Read the article below from lcms.org on pastors:
Why do we need Pastors in the church?
Please Post any comments or questions. I am excited to hear what you think!
***If you have a question, but would rather not post you can email me at: email@example.com. ***
Monday, September 29, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
Rex called the meeting to order by welcoming the new people at the meeting.
EVANGELISM - Parry Dauer reported that the current project is to collect winter coats and have people come and get them at the church. Evangelists from the church will go door to door to collect the coats and would like to get 200-250 coats. Collection will begin in October.
MOPS - Kathy Brown reported that since the meeting was canceled last week because of lack of electricity, they would meet Sept. 22. They had their first Sunday night meeting and it was very well attended. There are also six new members for the morning MOPS. They are having a Rummage and Bake sale on September 27 from 8 to 1. The Christmas Boutique will be held November 2.
ELDERS - Erik Vecere said that the plans are in the works for an every-member Personal Stewardship Interview starting with the elders and continuing with the boards. Erik presented to council for approval a Marriage Enrichment Class which is part of a program called Together Pittsburgh.
VICAR ZACH will take the Junior Youth to Cheeseman's Fright Farm and the Senior Youth had a great get-together at Pastor's house. The Youth Team will meet October 1st.
TRUSTEES - Rich Winkle has several projects that need immediate attention and that need to be addressed. The Vicar's porch roof is leaking and needs to be replaced. The parking lot needs to be recoated and lines painted (this could wait until Spring), Pastor's office needs to be finished, (Pastor could use the gift he received at his Anniversary Party to pay for materials but would prefer to use those monies for their intended purpose of furniture. Council approved $5,000 to be taken from the Building Fund for renovations and repairs. These will be made available to the treasurer to pay bills associated with these projects. Trustees are reviewing the congregation's insurance policies.
PASTOR - Pastor has had meetings with almost all the boards and is encouraged that everyone is getting things done.
Rex commented on the fact that Steve Dort was leaving and would be missed. The next meeting will be held October 19.
The meeting was closed with "The Lord's Prayer".
Thursday, September 25, 2008
For anyone who is following this online, we will carry on with material from the end of 1 Thessalonians Chapter 1, and we will start chapter 2.
Read 1 Thessalonians 1:6-10 below:
"6You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8The Lord's message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, 9for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath."
1) Check out the Q&A on imitation posted below. What does the word "imitation" mean to us? What did it mean to Paul?
What are ways that you can imitate Christ?
Watch the video and answer the questions below it:
How did imitating Christ, help some of the people in Paraguay? How can it help others around us?
2) Read verse 8 again. Paul says that the message rang out from Thessalonica- kind of like a bell. Click on the link below to see a picture of sound waves:
Notice how sound waves move out in all directions. How can we spread the Gospel in all directions, so that we ring out like a bell?
3) Chapter 2 covers many characteristics of a good pastor. Before you read 1 Thessalonians 2, think of what a pastor should be like. How is a pastor faithful to God's Word? In what ways should he serve the church? Etc...
4) Read 1 Thessalonians 2:1-2
1You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure. 2We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition.
How does Paul handle criticism of his ministry?
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Grace, mercy and peace...
What are the most expensive words? Perhaps the most expensive words come in twos: try these on for size - "interest rates"; "new house"; "new car"; "food bills". Maybe some combinations of threes have that expensive ring to them as well: "Broken Fuel Pump"; "Cost of Living". How abou the friend who comes in bearing the keys to your car and says, "I had a little accident." Are those the most expensive words?
Depending upon your experiences in life, opinions will vary as to what the most expensive words in life are. But there really is no question as to what the most expensive words in the world are. Jesus Christ gives us the answer: The most expensive words in the world are these: "I Love You." That's because they always cost something of the one who bears them sincerely. Jesus declares that even as God has made these words expensive, valuable and meaningful in a world which tries its best to make them cheap and meaningless, we are to do likewise in our lives. He does so within the framework of these words. "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. This I command you, to love one another."
Love. Why? The word "Love" is everywhere. 98 percent of popular music speaks of love. Love is a common theme of TV and theatre. Our children are taught "love thy neighbor" as a golden rule. We swoon over novels about "lovers." We choke up at the idea of "true love". we associate words like "forever" automatically with it. Thousands cried their eyes out when a popular movie stated "Love means never having to say you're sorry." Government and religious groups sponsor commercials urging you to "love others" despite race and social class. Why, love and loving suggestions are all around us. If this world has created a god out of an ideal, that ideal is love. Yet we have trouble pinning down what exactly love is.
Dare we question our society's love diety? Perhaps the world has cheapened the words "I Love You!" rendering them meaningless, dragging them through the dust of superficiality so often that we don't know what they mean anymore. They've become little more than some abstraction. Too often we have seen these words become "a lot of talk." we've seen them turned on and off at whim. We've seen them used cheaply to secure favors, sexual and otherwise; used as a means of self-betterment; used as a means to "get ahead" at the expense of another's emotions; used in an attempt to justify years of neglect; used to possess and direct. Perhaps the words "I Love You" have become cheap and have lost their value due to careless use.
What is love, anyway? The product of scattered brain cells which managed to evolve from the earth? Is "love" a freak - a by-product of an accidentally higher form of animal life?
See, the world apart from God has no real definition for love. Apart from God, love becomes a cruel hoax. It goes to dust with our bodies. And the person who shows love winds up with the same reward as he who had none: a casket probably in the mid-price range, the common anonymity of death. Love becomes a relative term - you practice it (whatever you think it is) if and when you fell like it.
It's one thing to know about love; to KNOW love is another thing. It is one thing to know about God; to KNOW God is another thing. John says: "he who does not love, does not know God; for God is love."
God in Christ Jesus makes the words "I Love You" expensive and meaningful once more. He made them meaningful by sending His Son, a son who enabled him to forgive and forget our sinful lack of love. Through His Son he showed his tender, sympathizing nature. We were slaves to stree, strife, anxiety, doubt, fear, defeat, pointless existence - and he laid down his life for our release. There's is the cost! He made the words "I Love You" meaningful by making us his friends. In your baptism, Jesus introduces you to the Father, saying: Father, these are my friends - Rich, John, Mary, Lois, Sue etc... I love them and gave my life for them.
" I Love You." These words have meaning once more because Jesus gives his love as a dwelling place. It's the very air that we breathe in life -- his care, concern, forgiveness, support, nurturing. We walk in it, we move in it. And it's an expensive commodity indeed. It cost Him His life.
This isn't designed to give you a definition of love. No blog can accomplish that. But one thing is clear: You show me a picture of Jesus, his life, death and resurrection - and I'll show you a picture of what "Love" is all about.
In Greenville, S.C. there is a memorial to a pilot, the only American killed during the Cuban missile crisis. The inscription reads, "Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." The cross isn't just a monument, it stands for a Saviour who lived up to the supreme ideal of love and yet still lives! " I have loved you with an everlasting love."
Don't you see? We have a friend, a beautiful loving friend, who has worked it out for us to be God's friends. Loving friendship means a willingness to spend ones self for another. Jesus made you God's friend, spent his life for you - and in doing so, gave the words "I Love You" new meaning. Greater love hath no man than this - that he lay down his life for his friends."
Jesus said these things, but they are hard words to hear. After all, you may say, life isn't that simple. Yet the simple truth of the faith is this: You're called to make these words expensive and meaningful in your lives as well.
Jesus says: "I choose you." You are chosen to love. Christ chose you by dying for you on the cross. How have you responded to that love? You are chosen for a reason, chosen to love! Yet the way we live our lives often times makes it seem that we were chosen for some other purpose.
Wishing to receive the affection of his subjects Frederick the Great struck a subject with a whip one day and exclaimed: "Confound you, I want you to love me." We sometimes act that way. We're chosen, not forced. God takes the initiative, chooses us and comes after us; Chooses us to reflect his "power and presence" in our lives. His love draws love out of us. His command isn't a new law to be feared, but a kinship of spirits, between you and your friend Jesus, a union of purpose and mission.
Jesus bore fruit. It was indicative of his relationiship with his Father. He healed, he forgave, he ministered, he comforted. You have been called to bear lovely fruit, too.
Love may still be painful. In fact, it will be! Many early Christians realized the ultimate sacrifice out of love for Christ. But what is the love which Christ taught, but the spirit of self-sacrifice. The world is often hateful toward that which is good and beautiful. The way of love is lined with crosses. It's hard and steep. You may very well get burned. Yet Christ says, " I choose You!" And he may be calling you to bleed willingly and joyfully for his sake.
Maybe you have been less than loving. Maybe you have failed to express love in the past. Maybe you feel unloved and unloving. There is forgiveness in Jesus. There is compensation in Jesus Christ. Have you failed to love? Treated these words cheaply? Don't take it too hard. You are like the rest of us. As long as there are human beings, no one will "get it right" all of the time. Just remember: God's love is there before and after all our efforts to love each other and ourselves. The victory of Christ's resurrection is this: In Jesus, new life, new chances, new beginnings are always being created in us. New opportunities to live the words "I Love You" with great sincerity and great expense and great meaning.
"I love you when you're good" a father told his young daughter. The little girl answered quickly, "I love you all the time, Daddy." That little girl had the right idea of how God loves in Christ. Sacrificially, with great sympathy, with profound simplicity. Knowing that we are forgiven, that we are loved "we try harder."
It cost God to say, "I Love You." It cost Him the life of His Son. God had made these words meaningful. Can we afford to treat them cheaply?
Friends of God, let's love one another and share Christ's joy!
Friday, September 19, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Last week we studied Acts 17- the founding of the church in Thessalonica. We also learned about the city of Thessalonica, and its history. This week we are diving into chapter 1 of 1 Thessalonians! The first few verses are packed with meaning for the church, so we will really focus on the first five verses in class.
If you are following along online here are some links that will help you to read 1 Thessalonians 1:
I posted the Enduring Word Commentary last week, but I have found both to be helpful.
In verse four Paul says that he knew that God chose the people of Thessalonica. How do we know that God chose us?
(Hint: The answer is simple- if we have faith, we know that God chose us.)
2) Watch the video on praying for others, and answer the questions below it.
In verse two Paul thanked God in his prayers for the Thessalonian church. According to the video how does it make others feel when we pray for them?
How do you feel when you pray for others?
Why should we pray for others?
3)In verse 5 of 1 Thessalonians 1, Paul mentions the power of God's Word. Look at the hymn found in the link below. (This is hymn 222 in the Lutheran Worship hymnal.)
Where does the Word come from?
How are we blessed by it?
Post any thoughts, comments, or questions below. Let's get the discussion going!
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Thursday, September 4, 2008
I will post links that are relevant to the text of 1 and 2 Thessalonians, as well as, links that are relevant to our discussion.
Here are a few places that I found helpful to introducing yourself to 1 and 2 Thessalonians:
http://www.enduringword.com/commentaries/5201.htm -Provides a solid introduction to the cast of Paul's missionary team in Thessalonica.
http://www.biblestudy.org/maps/pauls-secd-journey-map.html - This is a nice map of Paul's second missionary journey. Here you can follow his route to and from Thessalonica.
http://www.bibleplaces.com/thessalonica.htm -Archaeology is not my forte, but it's fun to look at pictures! This shows some of the remains of Thessalonica under modern day Thessaloniki in Greece.
Feel free to post any question or thoughts that you would like to share!
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
A typical MOPS meeting brings moms together for a SIT-DOWN (!) breakfast, shared ideas, knowledge from "experts", cooperative activities, laughter, tears, opportunities to lead and follow, mutual understanding, and PRAYERS...ALL while loving Grandmas entertain and care for the preschoolers in another room.
Give away my eye teeth for this? You betcha! In this day and age when families are remote, neighbors are unseen, and the world just keeps on turnin', it's a blessing to have a group and a place where young moms can be refreshed, renewed and reminded that they are not alone.
As a congregation, we need to support, promote, and encourage the M.O.P.S. Program at Mt. Olive.
Submitted by Doreen Hietsch, M.O.P.S Mentor Mom
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
We know that we can’t take it with us but the wealth that we leave behind could be the best thing or the worst thing that can ever happen to our loved ones.
We will use the book "Splitting Heirs" by Ron Blue, a Christian financial advisor. The book is sometimes humorous, often moving and always crystal clear. Ron explains why it is important to make these decisions now instead of forcing your heirs to do it later. Using practical tips, tools, charts and worksheets he will help us:
--- Leave an inheritance that helps our heirs without spoiling them.
--- Communicate our desires the right way , at the right time.
--- Navigate the legal and tax issues surrounding our estate.
--- Decide which charities or ministries to support, and how to tell if they will be worthy stewards of our hard earned wealth.
Even if our nest egg is small, it can have a huge impact on the next generation. All it takes is a little planning and a real appreciation for the resources that God has put in our care.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
People spend a lot of time and money preparing for the wedding, but not much preparing for the marriage.
The typical wedding ceremony is crammed with symbols of God’s plan for a covenant marriage ...
Great marriages, or even solid marriages, don’t just happen. They are intentional.
My 24-year old daughter recently participated in a wedding that many merely dream about: the Ritz-Carlton, beautifully manicured acreage, surrounding waterscapes, celebrative music filling the air with anticipation, enough food and drinks to feed a veritable army and, of course, a fashionably elegant wedding party dressed to the nines. Add in a healthy dose of fabulous weather, and you have a magic moment. But external trappings do not always great marriages make!
On the way home my daughter, caught in a reflective fog, enumerated friends whose marriages were already destabilized. “It seems to me that a lot of people spend a lot of time and money preparing for the wedding, but not much preparing for the marriage,” she mused. Stop the world! There’s a piece of earth-shattering perspective. Why wasn’t I thinking of insightful things like that at 24? I wondered.
Today, statistics scream to us of the implosion of marriage. In this disposable society, marriage partners become throw-away items if they don’t fit into the other’s “wants, needs and goals.”
I purposely used the word implosion and not explosion. Webster’s defines it as “to collapse inward as if from external pressure.” Our landscape of marriage looks like the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, or a once-stately high-rise brought to a pile of rubble by demolition experts. So what key pressures and charges are toppling today’s marriages?
It’s a Covenant, not a Contract!
On any given weekend, and even in the church, exhilarated brides and nervous grooms say their “I do’s” without understanding God’s deepest intent for the relationship into which they enter. They ritually run through the elements of a ceremony without understanding the Rock from which it was hewn!
Having had the joy of speaking in marriage conferences, I often start with the differences between a “contract” and a covenant. Tying it back into the covenant dealings of God with His people, I remind them that the Hebrew word so often used for covenant is “beriyth” meaning “a solemn agreement cut between parties with binding force.” I unpack the elements of God’s covenants with His leaders and people, followed by a look at the first-century Jewish wedding (which was seen as a covenant relation). Then I show the elements of covenant still present in the modern-day wedding ceremony. Afterwards, I often have scores of people say, “I’ve never heard that before! Why don’t we hear that in weddings today?” What an attention-grabbing question, indeed! Why don’t they?
The typical wedding ceremony is crammed with symbols of God’s plan for a covenant marriage:
The groom enters first because he is the initiator of the covenant. The white runner depicts holy ground. The father walks his daughter down the aisle because he is coming to the end of his spiritual leadership and prepares to surrender that role to the man in whose hands he will place her. She walks down an aisle (and they will exit by it) representing the “walk of death”, when those entering Biblical covenants walked between the halves of a slain animal, as if to say, “may what happened to this animal happen to me if I break this covenant.” The groom says his vows first because at that moment, he becomes the spiritual head. And we all could stand being reminded that:
A contract is based on distrust;A covenant is based on trust.
A contract is based on limited liability;A covenant is based on unlimited responsibility.
A contract can be voided by a court or mutual consent;A covenant is not to be voided.
A contract says, “What’s mine is mine”;A covenant says. “What’s mine is yours.”
In the past fifteen years, I can’t remember doing a ceremony without focusing on these important elements and what they mean to those taking their “vows”.
What an amazing time of discipling for all involved, and we could be missing it! There are some wonderful resources out there to help any minister capture perhaps one of the most powerful equipping experiences in life. They can move couples from focusing on simply the “wedding,” to concentrating on the covenantal relationship and the strength it brings to the experience.
Enter With Your Eyes Open!
As marriages hurtle into the future before them, we must remind every couple to keep their eyes open for the needs and fears of the other. A wise, seasoned counselor told me years ago that the greatest need of women is security, and her greatest fear is insecurity. Conversely, the greatest need of a man is adequacy, and his greatest fear, inadequacy. If only my wife and I had been told this before we got married, not years later!
Within every wife, there is a little girl craving to hear that she is pretty, valued, treasured and loved. She can handle multiple moves, shaky finances, job difficulties and worse as long as she is relationally secure with her man. Every husband longs to hear, “I’m proud of you because…” He yearns to know he is adequate in his leadership. In conference after conference, women sit stunned when my wife asks men to lower their head and raise their hand on what they would prefer to hear from their wife: “I love you,” or “I’m proud of you.” “I’m proud of you” wins hands down (or up in this case). Even the makers of Viagra and Calais understand a man’s passionate desire to be adequate!
So, what implosions might be avoided if every couple walking toward the altar were clearly guided on the foundational need/fear of their potential mate? It would so clearly show how our IEDs (improvised explosive devices) of words and actions within marriage can rupture the infrastructure of our relationships and bring our homes crashing in around us.
Why Wait ‘til All Else Fails?
I remember well the older gentleman, looking deep into my eyes—with a glint in his—as he said, “When all else fails, son, pray with your wife.” After some 35 years of marriage, I would scream, “DON’T WAIT UNTIL ALL ELSE FAILS!”
I am shaken by how many men across the nation who characterize themselves as “Christian” husbands miss a key ingredient of quake-proof marriages: praying with their spouse. Notice I didn’t say “praying for their spouse.” Sure, that’s important; but something profoundly powerful happens when a husband leads his wife in a time of shared prayer. And ask any wife if she would prefer her husband not lead their prayer, and she’ll likely take your head off! Every woman deeply needs her husband to take the spiritual lead in their home, and this means more than just taking the family to church. It’s an investment of himself in hands-on application.
But why don’t more men do it? Multiple reasons: lack of a good model, a feeling of inadequacy, a fear of failure, not knowing how to begin, lack of equipping…and on and on it goes.
So, to reverse the implosion, could churches spend focused time on equipping men to pray with their wives? Start simply: suggest getting a notebook/journal and writing down prayer needs and requests with their date and the answers as they come. (It blows a woman’s mind when she sees her husband writing down what she says!) And encourage them to begin where they are right now, and repeat that it’s not too late!
At a recent men’s conference, I spoke on this subject and challenged the men to start right where they were, right NOW. The next morning, a 73-year old man sought me out, and with tears streaming down his cheeks he declared, “I did something for the first time last night, something I should have done years ago. I prayed with my wife.” He choked as he recounted the amazing experience and regretted what he had missed for years. Then I asked, “What did your wife do?” With faltering voice, he whispered, “She said she had been waiting all of our married life for this day.” Enough said! And here is the amazing part: his “adequacy-rating” skyrockets, and she feels increasingly secure.
It Doesn’t Just Happen
As I step back and reflect on what I have observed in these last years of societal-wide marriage implosion, above all one missing ingredient comes to mind: intentionality. I have never seen any man say, “I think I’ll marry someone who won’t love me in ten years,” or a woman who proclaimed, “All I want is a breadwinner.” No, every couple marches into marriage looking for the best of times and not giving a second-thought to the possibility of the worst of times. With a beautiful wedding, a breathtaking honeymoon, and a bright new future, what more is there? Not much, is the answer, without intentionality.
Great marriages, or even solid marriages, don’t just happen. They are intentional. Partners must take practical steps to ensure the marriage that starts well can end well. People don’t just “slide” into marriages that last.
Maybe one of the most overlooked resources of our churches are mentoring couples who can be encouragers to younger or newly married couples. In our world of hectic schedules, unending expectations, “performance” mentalities and non-stop pressure, a spiritually mature couple to come alongside a newer one could be a life-saving resource and a pressure-release all at the same time. Their practical wisdom from an intentional, biblically-centered journey could be just what the doctor ordered.
So, could it be that my 24-year old daughter was right? Maybe we are tempted to spend a lot more effort on preparing for the wedding that we do preparing for the marriage. So, the ball’s in our court; may we become leaders, churches and people who act to reverse the implosion, triggering an explosion of stable homes.
Bob Record is a nationally recognized speaker, author, and business consultant. Bob and his wife Cheryl founded Total Life Impact to encourage the development of purposeful, Christ-centered missions and goals in the lives of believers. Bob served for nine years as the founding President/CEO for the North America Mission Board. He has authored eight books including Beneath the Surface and Made to Count.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Which, from God’s perspective, is nothing to grieve. He responds to these grave facts with this great news: “The day you die is better than the day you are born” (Eccles. 7:1). Now there is a twist. Heaven enjoys a maternity-ward reaction to funerals. Angels watch body burials the same way grandparents monitor delivery-room doors. “He’ll be coming through any minute!” They can’t wait to see the new arrival. While we’re driving hearses and wearing black, they’re hanging pink and blue streamers and passing out cigars. We don’t grieve when babies enter the world. The hosts of heaven don’t weep when we leave it.
Oh, but many of us weep at the thought of death. Do you? Do you dread your death? And is your dread of death robbing your joy of life?
Jesus came to “deliver those who have lived all their lives as slaves to the fear of dying” (Heb. 2:15).
Your death may surprise you and sadden others, but heaven knows no untimely death: “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed” (Ps. 139:16).
Dread of death ends when you know heaven is your true home. In all my air travels I’ve never seen one passenger weep when the plane landed. Never. No one clings to the armrests and begs, “Don’t make me leave. Don’t make me leave. Let me stay and eat more peanuts.” We’re willing to exit because the plane has no permanent mailing address. Nor does this world. “But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior” (Phil. 3:20).
Why don’t you do this: give God your death. Imagine your last breath, envision your final minutes, and offer them to him. Deliberately. Regularly. “Lord, I receive your work on the cross and in your resurrection. I entrust you with my departure from earth.” With Christ as your friend and heaven as your home, the day of death becomes sweeter than the day of birth.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
There will be special services and a dinner to celebrate Pastor's 25 years in the ministry and service here at Mt. Olive.
Dinner Reservation forms are in the greeting area at church. Please fill out and return to the mailboxes of Linda Rodenbeck (#146) or Matt and Deb McCauley (#105).
Thursday, June 5, 2008
CONSIGNMENT & BAKE SALE
Come shop at our MOM 2 MOM sale for an assortment of gently used kid’s, maternity, & adult clothing, shoes, toys, books, & much more!
SATURDAY, JUNE 28th
8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
If you are interested in selling your items, you can purchase table space. Tables & chairs will be provided.
Tables are $15.00 for 1 table
$25.00 for 2 tables
$35.00 for 3 tables
Registration & deposit required.
Location: Mt. Olive Lutheran Church
This sale benefits Mt. Olive MOPS
At any rate, Americans throw out a lot of refuse or "garbage." In one day, we throw out 150,000 tons of just PAPER products. One million bushels of that, by the way, out the windows of cars and trucks on our highways.
What dos our garbage tell about our culture and our values? About what is important to us? What will WE leave behind? What will archeologists of the future find? It's kind of embarassing to think that somebody will be going through your garbage, even if it's 3,000 years later.
St. Paul talks about garbage in Philippians 3: 7 He says "I consider all things rubbish." Garbage. He's talking about all the "stuff" that made up his life prior to his becoming a Christian. "That which was to my profit" says Paul.
What makes him call this stuff "garbage?" Didn't Paul have a good life before becoming a Christian? From what we know, Paul was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He hailed from the city of Tarsus--capital of the Roman province of Cilicia--in the northeast corner of the Mediterranean. He was a Jew, a proud descendent of the tribe of Benjamin. Paul had an outstanding eduction by the standards of his day. He had grduated the rabbinical school of the Pharisees at Jerusalem. HE kinew at least three langauges--Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic. He was at home both in Greco Roman culture and Judaic culture. He had inherited from his father the coveted Roman citizenship. He had grown up in one of the cultural centers of the ancient world, Tarsus. It boasted a university second only to that of Alexandria and Athens. Paul would have been able to put many champagne bottles atop his garbage.
And yet, he says: "I consider all these good things rubbish." Why does he do that? What he is saying is, not that all of these things were in of themselves bad. Nor was he saying that such things would have to be given up in order to become a Christian. What he WAS saying was that he now knew what was of ultimate importance in his life. And, by way of comparison, everything else in his life was now just "garbage" or "refuse." Jesus Christ and his salvation was so important to Paul, that everything else was, by way of comparison, was dispensible.
The fact of the matter is, Paul had, in fact, lost many of these things for confessing Christ at the time of his writing. "For his sake" writes Paul, "I have suffered the loss of all things." Literally, "I have had these things confiscated." Paul was imprisoned, and eventually lost his life for the Lord. And yet he says: "I suffer these things gladly, for the sake of Jesus Christ, my Lord."
There is one thing Paul was glad to lose...his self righteousness. Paul thought he was "good enough" to save himself as an expert keeper of the law. But now that was wrapped up and out at the curb. Why? "Because now I have a righteousness NOT my own, but that righteousness whichis through faith in Christ."
The things we throw out in America? Look at what washes up our beaches. Crack vials, needles, syringes, prescription bottles, styrofoam and plastic. These things symptomatic of a society based on an illusion of self sufficiency. A society which doesn't think it needs God.
And along with the garbage, on the Jersey shore, washes up a crucifix.Ironically, symbolic of our greatest need. "Whatever was to my profit, I now consider as loss for the sake of Christ." "I consider everything as loss compared with the greatness of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord, and the righteousness which comes by faith in him."
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
At a very young age I was first exposed to the drudgery of taking an annual inventory. First at the family grocery business and later in pharmacies. At these times I did not consider it a fun job. I would ask “why are we doing this” and the answer, as I recall, was because we have to - the Internal Revenue Service requires us to do an inventory once a year. Maybe they actually did not know or didn’t think an 11 year old would grasp complicated business strategy. As a young pharmacist I still didn’t understand what we were doing other than it was an I.R.S. requirement or some “bean counter” needed a number. I was more than willing to relinquish territory and let the bean counter get his own numbers but they never seemed to appreciate my offer. Taking inventory did not fit nicely into my concept of the things I wanted to do as a pharmacist. It was boring, it always involved overtime without pay, it was poorly organized and I was expected to accomplish my normal tasks in addition to doing the boring and tedious job of counting the inventory. The real joy killer was that nobody seemed to do anything of significance with the data obtained.
You can imagine my reaction when I learned as an new owner of a Medicine Shoppe franchise that I was expected to perform a complete inventory every three months. However, I noticed quickly that the franchise owners who worked the programs were successful and made money. Those who fought the programs, or only went through the motions, usually failed or at least failed to thrive. I elected to be a team player. Suddenly I had a vested interest in this process --- my attitude changed. I did the four inventories a year and my organizational skills allowed me to make innovations that resulted in the task being expedited. I started to understand why we were doing this. We had a limited amount of money to invest in inventory. More critical than money was space. In an 800 square foot pharmacy we could not allocate space for items that did not sell. There was no place available for nostalgia or “we always had this before“. The money and space could better be used. We could not afford to waste valuable space for items that produced no profit or prevented us from stocking items that could generate profit by a better utilization of resources. I transformed my thinking completely on this task. At first I only saw this as drudgery to accommodate a regulatory or accounting requirement. I saw no useful application. I came to see this function as a vital tool in my success in business. Once I saw the usefulness, I honed in on the process constantly making it more efficient and accurate. With the appearance of computers, I was able to keep perpetual inventories and totals that were only available four times a year with the expenditure of thirty plus man hours could be obtained in minutes every hour if necessary using virtually no man hours. A task that began as drudgery became a task that I had great enthusiasm for once I saw the benefits.
As a compulsive overeater, in recovery, and in a Twelve Step recovery program patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous, I am confronted with another type of inventory.
The “Big Book” of AA lists the steps. Number Four States “ (We) made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves”. Ouch this could be painful! Can I just go back to the grocery store and count the tomato soup cans or something else a little less personal? Can’t I keep my old harmful inventory because we have become such good friends? I know these are character defects but we have spent a lot of time together. Please Lord sanctify me but not here -- let me keep one foot in my old ways of thinking. Just like at the Medicine Shoppe there is only so much room to store inventory. There is no useful purpose in keeping bad moral inventory. With anger and resentment on the shelf there is no room for honesty and truthfulness. With three shelves taken up by fear and anxiety there is no room for faith and sensitivity. The analogies go on and on. For the pharmacy to function efficiently and profitably the bad inventory must be removed and replaced with good inventory. As redeemed Christians we need ask God to get rid of our bad inventory to make room for good moral inventory. We need to identify the liabilities in our character and ask Him to remove these and ask for sanctifying replacements.
Dr Charles Knippel in his book “Freedom from Hurtful Behaviors” says “ We desperately need to recognize our powerlessness over facets of our lives that are not under the control of the Holy Spirit”. First, he talks about erroneousness and unrelenting thoughts or beliefs about ourselves and/or others such as: I never do anything right, I am not a good person, No one likes me, the future looks hopeless, I don’t mater to God. Second, he talks about painful and persistent feelings: unrealistic guilt, worthlessness, sadness, jealousy, resentment, hatred, fear, shame, disappointment, and loneliness. Third, he talks about recurrent injurious behaviors: overeating, abuse of alcohol, drugs, gambling, wrong sexual activity, overspending, workaholism, gossiping, slander, profanity.
We are not alone in our defects. St Paul wrote in Romans 7:18-19, 25a
I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Dr. Knippel continues “ Denied hurtful mental and physical behaviors seriously jeopardize our spiritual well-being. They are enslaving behaviors that threaten our faith relationship with God. They may not immediately destroy our faith when they are born of weakness and perpetuated by our loss of control over them. Even weak faith is saving faith because faith is the Holy Spirits gift to us. But ultimately unrepented sins of weakness erode and destroy our faith. They thrust God out of our lives.”
This is an important inventory. We take it and we retake it many times. We ask God to get rid of the useless and harmful items in our inventory and to enhance the value of the good aspects that we discover. This task which initially intimidated me has became a task that I have great enthusiasm for now that I see the benefits. Something of great significance will be done with the information obtained.
I invite anyone with an addictive problem to come to our Christ centered 12 step program at Mt. Olive. When you come the first thing you will be given is a poker chip to remind us that we are gambling with our lives and our relationship with Jesus Christ.
Let me make a prediction: your biggest regret at the end of your life won’t be the things you did that you wish you hadn’t. Your biggest regret will be the things you didn’t do but wish you had.
That prediction is based on the research of two social psychologists, Tom Gilovich and Vicki Medvec (note). According to their research, time is a key factor in what we regret. Over the short-term, we tend to regret actions—things we did that we wish we hadn’t. But over the long-haul, we tend to regret inactions—things we didn’t do but wish we had. Their study found that action regrets outweigh inaction regrets 53 percent to 47 percent during an average week. But when people look at their lives as a whole, inaction regrets outnumber action regrets 84 percent to 16 percent.
I have my fair share of action regrets. I’ve said and done some things that I wish I could unsay and undo. Who hasn’t secretly wished that they could fly counter-rotational around the earth at supersonic speeds and reverse time like Superman? But I’m convinced that our deepest regrets at the end of our lives will be the risks not taken, the opportunities not seized, and the dreams not pursued.
The Great Omission
It seems to me that the modern church has become fixated on sins of commission. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. And you’re alright. But the problem with that is this: you can do nothing wrong and still do nothing right! Think of it as holiness by subtraction. So holiness becomes the byproduct of subtracting something from our lives that shouldn’t be there instead of maximizing our God-given potential. Don’t get me wrong. Holiness certainly involves subtraction. But I think God is far more concerned about sins of omission—those things we could have and should have done. Maybe holiness has as much or more to do with seizing opportunities as it does resisting temptation? Those who simply run away from sin are half-Christians. Our calling is much higher than simply running away from what’s wrong.
Maybe we’ve measured spiritual maturity the wrong way? Maybe following Christ isn’t supposed to be as safe or as civilized as we’ve been led to believe? Maybe Christ was more dangerous and uncivilized than our Sunday school flannel graphs portrayed? And maybe God wants to raise up a generation of lion chasers?
II Samuel 23:20 highlights one of the most obscure yet courageous acts recorded in Scripture, but it’s more than that. It’s a microcosm on how God calls us to approach life.
Benaiah chased a lion down into a pit. Then, despite the snow and slippery ground, he caught the lion and killed it.
Scripture doesn’t tell us what Benaiah was doing or where he was going when he encountered this lion. We don’t know Benaiah’s frame of mind, but Scripture does reveal his gut reaction. And it was gutsy. It ranks as one of the most improbable reactions recorded in Scripture. When the image of a man-eating beast travels through the optical nerve and registers in the visual cortex, the brain has one over-arching message: run away.
That is what normal people do, but lion chasers are wired differently. They don’t see five-hundred pound problems. They see God-ordained opportunities.
For most of us, finding ourselves in a pit with a lion on a snowy day would pose a substantial problem, but you’ve got to admit something: I killed a lion in a pit on a snowy day looks pretty impressive on your résumé if you’re applying for a bodyguard position with the King of Israel! Not only does Benaiah land a job as David’s chief bodyguard, he climbs all the way up the military chain-of-command to become Commander-in-Chief of Israel’s army. Benaiah was the second most powerful person in the kingdom of Israel, but his genealogy of success can be traced all the way back to a life-and-death encounter with a man-eating lion. It was fight or flight. Benaiah was faced with a choice that would determine his destiny: run away or give chase. If you run away, you’ll always wonder what if.
Face Your Fears
Satan wants to scare the heaven out of you. But in the words of I John 4:18: “Perfect love casts out all fear.” As we grow in a love relationship with God, we unlearn the fears that keep us from living by faith. And the end result is fearlessness!
It was two years ago that I was part of a team that went on a mission trip to Ethiopia. Before going on the trip, everybody on the team was a little nervous. It was during a time of political unrest; we were subjecting ourselves to a variety of third world diseases; and even drinking the water and eating the food was done conscientiously.
So everybody on the team was a little nervous, but one team member was downright fearful. Especially when she learned that we were going to camp out in Awash National Park on our free day. Somehow, knowing that armed guards would keep watch all night didn’t ease her mind! Neither did the crocodiles we saw in the river or the lions we heard around the campfire! But I was so proud of Sarah because she faced her fear. And because she pushed through her fears, she experienced some of the most amazing memories of her life.
We drove through the Ethiopian outback and went swimming in a natural spring that was heated by a volcano. You don’t get to do that every day. We visited a tribal village that looked like it came right out of the pages of National Geographic. And none of us will forget our game drive on top of Land Rovers.
In retrospect, it’s hard to imagine how many memories Sarah would have forfeited if she had run away from her fears. One of the greatest tragedies in life is the stories that go untold because we don’t face our fears! But she decided to live her life in a way that was worth telling stories about!
For what it’s worth, none of things she was afraid of happened. The plane didn’t crash. She didn’t get sick. And she wasn’t eaten alive by wild animals. The only bad thing that happened to her was getting pooped on by a baboon. I kid you not! I’m not sure if the baboon was aiming or not, but what a shot. I know that is a nasty, but what a story! That is living life to the fullest!
So here is my advice: don’t let mental lions keep you from experiencing everything God has to offer. The greatest experiences will often double as the scariest experiences. The defining moments will often double as the scariest decisions.
Benaiah must have been scared spitless when he encountered that lion. But he didn’t run away. In fact, it was the fear he felt that made his “in a pit with a lion on a snowy day” story all the more fun to tell ex post facto.
Imagine the bedtime stories Benaiah must have told his children! I can hear his kids: tell us the lion story one more time! I think we owe it to our kids and grandkids to live our lives in a way that is worth telling stories about. And more importantly, we owe it to God. So here is my question: are you living your life in a way that is worth telling stories about?
Maybe it is time to quit running and start chasing.
A New Year Manifesto
When opportunity roars you have a choice to make: run away like a scaredy-cat or grab life by the mane.
Grab life by the mane.
Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop criticizing and start creating. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Consider the lilacs. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Don’t let what’s wrong with you keep you from worshipping what’s right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Laugh at yourself. Keep making mistakes. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don’t try to be who you’re not. Be yourself. Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away. And remember: if God is for us who can be against us?
Unleash the lion chaser within!
Maybe it’s time to apply for your dream job; admit your addiction; reconcile the relationship; ask her out; take the test; go on a mission trip; mentor someone; stop attending church and start serving; add a stamp to your passport; take a night class; start a business; or write the manuscript.
There is an old aphorism: no guts no glory.
When we don’t have the guts to step out in faith and chase lions, then God is robbed of the glory that rightfully belongs to him!
Chase the lion!
(note): Neal Roese, If Only: How to Turn Regret into Opportunity (New York: Broadway, 2005), 48.
Mark Batterson is the lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C., a multi-site church, a leading fellowship in the nation’s capital. Meeting in movie theatres and Metro stops throughout the D.C. area, NCC is attended by more than 70 percent single twenty-somethings. Mark’s weekly podcast is one of the fastest growing in America. His book, In A Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day: How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars peaked at #44 on Amazon.com’s best-seller list. This summer he will soon release his newest book entitled, Wild Goose Chase: Reclaiming the Adventure of Pursuing God.