It’s Saturday–You Need a Laugh

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For What Purpose?

Pastor Larry Peters has some very pertinent thoughts concerning the reason we do things:

When I reflect back upon the differences between my grandparents time and my own, I am reminded that my grandparents lived in a far smaller world than I do. They did not have TV with 24 hours news cycles to bring everything that happens everywhere into their living rooms. They did not travel as I travel and stayed much closer to the center of the circle of their home area than I have. They did not have a large library of books to call their own — a library fueled by the ridiculously cheap prices and easy access of an Amazon.com — as I do. They did not carry cell phones or do email or surf the Internet as I do every day.

My point is this, it is not simply that they knew less than I know, but that what they knew they knew well and their knowledge was meant for use. So much of our knowledge today is trivial and nearly all of it passive knowledge. We know about things but we seldom are called to use this knowledge for any real purpose. We know about things around the world but we are still far removed from these places and so the knowledge does not move us to action as much as it satisfies curiosity. We find out so much about things through all the electronic media available to us but what do we do with this information? Do we act upon it? Do we file it away for a someday that never comes? Do we read it only to replace its information with other stuff? Are we growing in knowledge so that we can accomplish things or do we collect information as if it were just another obscure hobby?

I am thinking in particular about Bible study and the learning about God, God’s work in history, the Church, etc. It occurs to me that people can do Bible study on line, they can have it tweeted to their cell phone, they can use software designed to access every unusual word in Scripture in a moment, they have access to a library at their computer terminal, they have millions of sermons available to them at a moment… But at the same time, we struggle to find Sunday school teachers or youth group leaders or church leaders. What are people doing with all this knowledge if they are not applying it as teachers, leaders, and servers for the cause of the Gospel?

My fear? Well, my fear is that we have become rather passive about all this knowledge, about all this religious knowledge. We read it all but it does not motivate or move us. We are well informed but do not apply this information in any substantial way. We like have our curiosity satisfied but we are not so sure about taking up the mantle of teaching others what we know.

All the time I hear people say, “Oh, Pastor, I don’t want to give up being in your Bible study to teach Sunday school; I would miss too much.” Well, maybe yes and maybe no. As Christian people we cannot always be hearers… James reminds us that we are also to be doers. What we miss in one place learning, is made up by what we accomplish teaching.

I fear that we are raising up generations of rather selfish Christians who place self-interest above the call to serve. If that is true, we need to re-examine what we are doing. Knowledge of Scripture and the Christian faith should result in servants for the Kingdom, equipped to do God’s bidding.

We live in a wonderful time when information and great materials are easily accessible to every Christian– even among our own LC-MS we have a very promising new Lutheran study Bible, the Concordia readers edition of our Confessions, the Treasury devotional book, a new and well done hymnal, catechism resources in addition to the catechism itself… I do not mean to suggest we should not use these wonderful resources. I am wondering if we are failing to challenge, encourage, and call upon our people to use all these resources for the purpose of serving the Lord in all the various places where faith intersects with life (both in and out of the congregation).

Mid-Week Stewardship Thought

Love One Another

As New Testament Christians, we live under grace in response to the love Jesus has shown us by His sacrifice for our sins. We are no longer bound by the legalism of the Law. Christ, because of His love for us, fulfilled the Law on our behalf (Romans 13:10). Through Him, we are enabled to be faithful to His command to love one another as He has loved us (John 13:34). Just as Jesus spared nothing as He demonstrated and continues to demonstrate His love for us, let us be generous and open-handed in showing love to all.

Prayer: Lord, grant me grace to remain in Your love and to proclaim Your unfailing love to all. Help others to see Your love through me. Lord, open my eyes to opportunities to help and serve others. Through Christ, the suffering Servant, I pray. Amen.

Blessings on your stewardship journey!

The True Cost

Our Federal Government recently released information about how much it will cost parents to raise a child born in 2008. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by these figures in the interesting financial times in which we live.

But, if you remember this past Sunday’s Gospel reading, Jesus has a different point of view about the value of children. The disciples were arguing about who among them was the “greatest” and Jesus, knowing what they were fussing over, pointed out to them (and to us) that the greatest in God’s kingdom are children.

He even goes to further amplify this point in verse 42, which says, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” The real value of children–and all of us–is our faith in Jesus not the things of this world. The finest clothes or best meals won’t bring you to heaven but believing in Jesus as your Savior from sin sure will. Therefore, Jesus reminds us, don’t mess with the faith of a child and cause them to lose sight of what is really important in life.

We all know it costs a lot of money to provide for a child in today’s world. But isn’t their faith in Jesus more valuable?

Make sure your child or grandchild is in church and Sunday school this Sunday and every Sunday! Give them the opportunity to have their faith grow in the Lord.

Jesus’ Health Care Plan

I would encourage you to read this editorial by George Barna of the Barna Group, one of the most respected Christian polling groups in America.

You may not agree with everything Barna says but it is quite thought provoking especially when he describes the role of Christians in providing for those who are in need.

We are God’s hands here on earth. Let us use our gifts and talents for the benefit of all!

Why Is The Name Different?

If you have received phone calls from me when I was at home and if you have Caller ID, you might have not seen my name but rather the name of the former pastor of Christ the King, Edward Callahan. After a few attempts, I now have an answer as to why this is the case.

I had contacted our phone carrier, Verizon, over a year ago about this and they changed the information on their records to reflect my name at the address. What I learned this week is that for those of you who have phone service through an alternate type of carrier (cable, VoIP, Skype, or something along that line) your phone provider must update their records as to what name is associated with what phone number. That makes sense but that information is not free–it must be bought by the other providers for their systems and many providers don’t update this type of information regularly to save money. My customer service representative told me that his own personal information is not updated as he discovered when he called Queens (in NYC) which told his cousin that the call was from a place of business that had not existed for 26 years!

Therefore, if you receive a call from me and it shows Edward Callahan’s name that because your phone company hasn’t spend the money to update their information.

Just in case you wanted to know …

Comfort, Comfort My People, Says Our God

This week I attended a retreat focusing on Advent thoughts for preaching and for ministry. One of the main texts we looked at was Isaiah 40 and there was much value in our study. We broke the chapter into three sections and by looking at these verses, through a series of questions designed to provoke discussion, the truths of God’s Word was exposed.

I especially found verses 7 and 8, “The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever,” to be helpful in relating to our world today.

Too often, we trust in only that which we see and understand rather than in our God Who is not seen by human eyes nor fully understood by human minds. We prefer something we “can get our arms around” to alleviate our fears and questions. But the things of this world will not be satisfying to us in providing the answers we are seeking. Only God’s Word, which “will stand forever,” offers all that we need for strength and comfort.

So often, I have wrestled with problems that I felt only I could turn up the necessary answer through my own wisdom and strength. How foolish I am to think that way! My Lord knows me better than I could ever know myself and He has all the answers for all my questions.

God’s Word stands strong for me and for you. Don’t be afraid to trust Him.

It was a great few days to be in study of God’s Word and to be with fellow pastors who could share their discoveries from learning from this Word plus provide a wonderful setting for discussing our ministries as God’s servants. It was an honor and privilege to be with them.