HS Winter Retreat

Keep Calm and Proclaim Law and Gospel

Last week the Supreme Court ruled to overturn laws concerning Same Sex Marriage by requiring all states to recognize the desires of those who wish to marry a person of the same gender. I know that some of my fellow Bible believing Christians view this as a huge blow. I have seen your posts and comments. I have seen emotions running from fear to anger to just plain shock. And so, I wish to offer this word of encouragement. Jesus has already overcome the world. By His death, sin, the devil, and this world have already been conquered. We are merely experiencing its death throws. And by the resurrection of Jesus, we have already been given new life and a hope in what is to come. Jesus has already gone to prepare our places so no matter what happens here we have nothing to fear. As Paul said nothing the world can bring against us can compare to the glories that await.

Brothers and sisters, if you are worried about what the Supreme Court ruling means for the church as she continues to confess the Biblical definition of marriage, turn to Scripture; join with your fellow Christians in fellowship and prayer. Find your peace at Christ’s table.   For our hope is in Jesus, not in nine judges.

Whatever you do, do not lash out.

Often, we humans turn our fear into anger and we begin to lash out. We respond with angry and sometimes vile words. I have already seen this happening with fellow Christians responding to those who favor the Supreme Court’s ruling. We need not be insulting to remain true to the confession of the Biblical faith. We can speak an unwavering truth without words we know that will hurt, words that hurt not for the truth they speak but the baggage they carry. The last thing we need is to make it easy for them to lump us together with Westboro Baptist. As I point out to the addicts I counsel, being honest doesn’t excuse being mean. We can maintain our confession that certain thoughts and activities are sins without resorting to being mean.

Instead follow the words of Rev. Matthew Harrison.

As faithful Christians, we shall continue to be obedient to just laws. We affirm the human rights of all individuals and the inherent and equal value of all people. We respect the divinely given dignity of all people, no matter their sexual preference. We recognize that, under the exacting and demanding laws of God, we are indeed sinners in thought, word and deed, just as are all (Romans 3:9ff.). We confess that the “blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all our sins” (1 John 1:7). We confess that God’s divine law of marriage and the entire Ten Commandments apply to all, and that so also the life-giving sacrifice of Christ on the cross is for all. It is a “righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe” (Romans 3:22).

What does that mean?

We need to rethink our political strategy. I am the first to say the government’s job is to enforce morality. By this statement, I mean enforce the second table of the Ten Commandments which largely boils down to how we behave towards one another. However, for too long, many of us have thought we can build and maintain a “Christian” nation via our laws. We bought into a lie. We cannot have a Christian nation through laws. The Christian nation exists not in the form of earthly government, but in the Church united in the body of Christ. And, Christians only come about through the life changing work of the Gospel and the Gospel falls under the realm of the church not the realm of the government. And so, we need to rethink how we have been going about things politically speaking. Honestly speaking, we were never going to win the same sex marriage debate. Once the world learned God wasn’t about to go and open heaven’s flood gates on it, the world was going to do what the world wanted. Any attempt right now that we make to overturn the ruling is going to make us look like people trying to grab back the privilege we supposedly just lost. And in turn, make it easier to paint us as bigots. I think we can afford to take a long view right now. Other work needs to be done. We need to win the hearts of the people and it will not be easy.

 

We start by becoming a sympathetic figure. We do what we should have been doing all along. We treat people as nicely as we possibly can. Give people respect even when we do not think they deserve respect. We need to be overwhelmingly generous with our words and deeds. Centuries ago, the pagan Romans complained about how Christians were making them look bad because we were so generous. That’s a complaint we need to hear again. Think about it this way. It is easy to hate the faceless person whom you can label with an evil name. To quote the Blues Brothers, “Illinois Nazis, I hate Illinois Nazis.” Illinois Nazis are faceless. They are easy to hate, because really who likes Nazis. They are only known for getting in the way of what we want.  The same thing happens with the word “bigot.” In many ways “bigot” has become the new “Nazi.” Who likes a bigot? They are all haters. It is very easy to be labeled the bigot when you are the faceless entity who seems to be getting in the way of what people want. We cannot afford to be the faceless entity. We shouldn’t have been anyways. We should have been friend and neighbor. Therefore, we will need to do everything we can to be that friend and neighbor, without compromising our confession, so as to not be called the bigot. The bigot is easy to hate particularly in this world enthralled with the idea of reliving the Selma days. While on the other hand, the neighbor who lives next door and will give you the shirt off his back is really hard to hate. I’m not saying that being outrageously generous and kind is going to be a magic pill to turn people around. People will still be people and there will be those who scream bigot when they find out you do not support their pet sins whatever they may be. But, it is still harder to do so to someone you know personally and have experienced their generosity.

We cannot lose our confession or we will cease to be a help to our brother. We hold to the Law of God ourselves and repent of our failings while continuing to immerse ourselves in the Gospel. We will not survive if we cave in on our confession. And if that happens who will be there for our brothers and sisters when sin drives them to rock bottom and they are left with a broken life. So, we continue on confessing that which we have been given to confess – the revealed will of God given in Law and Gospel. We must hold fast just as the martyrs did in the face of Roman persecution.

We cannot lose our confession of the Law because without the Law the Gospel is empty words. We need the humbling words of God’s command. We need to see our sin for what it is. One, because we ourselves need to repent. Thus, we need to see ourselves for the broken people we are. If we compromise on the Law in the name of being liked and we only end up losing sight of who we are. And in the end we will reject the Gospel itself.  The other reason is because in seeing our own sin we will find it easier to see our neighbors as broken people in need of help.  It’s hard to feel high and mighty when the Law has chopped your legs off at your hair line.

At the same time, neither can we lose our confession of the Gospel. Without the Gospel all is lost. There is no hope and there certainly is no compassion. During these troubling times we are going to need the hope of our victorious resurrected Savior more than ever. And there are people, having been given over to their sins, who are going to need the life renewing gift of the Gospel.  And we can’t give them the Gospel if we do not have it ourselves.  If you have ever been on a plane and listened to the safety talk, you will have heard them say, “Put your mask on first then help the person next to you.”  The reason they tell you this is because if you don’t get that mask on you’re going to pass out and be no good to anybody.  Same principle applies here, if you don’t have the Gospel you have no hope to give.

 

In short, keep calm and proclaim the Law and Gospel

 

And now some questions to consider as we move forward

We may need to rethink our role in society.  There may be roles we as Christians can no longer take. This is nothing new for us Christians. A Christian could not engage in prostitution or filming pornography and remain true to the faith. Similarly, we may need to rethink taking positions where we would be involved in officiating or licensing immoral acts of any kind. We may even have to rethink being in the catering business, simply because a cake may not be worth the fight (I know there is some debate over whether or not this constitutes participation, it’s just an example). Honestly, these are thoughts we need to have regarding any job.  If you know they are going to ask you to do things that are against God’s Law, you shouldn’t take the job.

At the same time, we need to work on strengthening our sense of community as a church and limit our involvement outside the community. I am not advocating a complete withdrawal from the outside community a la the Amish. Rather, I am thinking we will need to limit how much we are influenced by the outside community. We still interact, but we treat outside worldviews with care and discernment. And so, we need to limit the outside world’s influence over our community.  The things in the outside community that are good should be acknowledged, but at the same time, we should limit the exposure our children have to the bad parts of the outside community. We may need to see to educating our children ourselves, either through parochial schools or home education. I am not sure how much longer we can safely rely on public schooling, as it is simply too prone to following the predominant culture and our kids need a better foundation before facing the false views of the world. We may also need to cut ourselves off from much of what passes for entertainment in our world, while at the same time encouraging high art amongst our more artistically inclined Christian community members. The things in the paragraph above are just possibilities, I do not have definitive answers on how our future interaction should look in detail.

In the days of Rome, our own predecessors in the faith also had to rethink their role in society. The Apostles counseled them through this process. Paul writes extensively on this idea. He encouraged slave owners to, if possible, free their brothers in Christ or, if not possible, to treat them as a free man. Christians ceased participating in things that linked them to the pagan religions such as eating meat sacrificed to idols and no longer participating in the municipal festivals to pagan deities. The ancient Christians created their own art, extended charity to the surrounding community, continued to serve in helpful vocations, and served the population as a whole. All the while, they maintained a degree of separation and accepted the consequences of the separation.

 

It is not an easy road we face. However, the One we follow down the road has already overcome it. We continue to be the church. We live, breathe and proclaim Law and Gospel.

HS Winter Retreat

Why the Lord would have us go to church or how I learned to love that Every Sunday is Easter Sunday

Years ago, in an interview Rev. Dr. Norman Nagel, a professor of mine and great preacher of the Gospel,   was asked, “Why do you go to church?” To which he responded, “You are asking me the wrong question.” He went on to explain that one would get many fine sounding answers such as to be with fellow Christians, to praise God, and what not but, you wouldn’t get the right answer. Ask the wrong question and get the wrong answer, he claimed. The right question is why would the Lord want us to go to church? Now this is a good question. We know God wants us to get together. He says as much when he says “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:23–25) God wants us to get together. Why? To encourage one another is the simple answer.

What does it mean though to “encourage one another”? Sadly, I think too many people see “stir up one another to love and good works” and think Law. Which, by the way, I think is rather linked to the question, “Why go to church?” and its subsequent answers. We see the words “good works” and automatically think, “Law!” We have come to think that because good works conform to the Law that their heart and root is in that Law. Flowing from the idea good works are rooted in the Law has led us to wrongly believe gathering together is about the Law. To be fair if you are refusing to gather together, you are breaking the Law – you are not honoring the commandment to keep the Sabbath holy. However, it is also true that the reason we come together is not rooted in Law, but it is instead rooted in the Gospel – the good news of Good Friday and Easter.

When we try to use the Law to encourage, we ignore God’s intended use of killing and teaching. The Law teaches us God’s will. In Lutheran circles we refer to this as the Third Use of the Law. It shows us what we ought to be doing, but it does not encourage. The Law, instead of encouraging us, actually kills us. It shows us how utterly horrid we are. No, what encourages us, is the very thing that makes us alive and that is the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Gospel news of Jesus sacrificing himself and conquering death is our encouragement, because it wipes us clean, gives us Jesus’ perfect life and thus sets us free from the sin that binds us.

The Gospel is our encouragement. The news of Jesus taking our sins and burying them in His grave is what gives us a heart to love; because, simply put it gives us Jesus’ heart. And Jesus’ heart is capable of greater love than we can iReceptive-Meditation-Divine-Servicemagine. Here in the Gospel we can start to answer the right question. Why would the Lord have us go to church?

Our Father wants to give us the good stuff. He wants us to have Jesus.  He has given us specific gifts in order to make sure we have Jesus.  And in our hectic rat race of a world there is one place we can know that Jesus will be given to us and that is the Divine Service.   For here in the Divine Service our sins will be forgiven in Absolution, we are baptized into Jesus’ death, that the Gospel will be preached by the pastor, and we will be given Jesus in communion. So the answer to the question is that God wants us to be set free from our sins, He uses specific gifts to accomplish that freedom and we know it will be found in one specific place each week.

The Divine service completely revolves around the three Means of Grace. In other words, the service we have every Sunday morning completely centers on the three gifts God promised to use to come to us. The service revolves around Baptism in which we are united to Jesus in his life, death and resurrection. Even when we do not have an actual Baptism happening, Baptism is a part of the service. The key point in the invocation is to recall to our minds the name in which we were baptized – highpoint nuLSB divine service  Iconmber 1. We have this remembrance so that you can remember that yes, God did come down to you and give you His life. The service then moves to confession and absolution where we admit that we have not lived the new life given to us in Baptism and God then uses the voice of the pastor to remove those sins – high point number two. We then hear the word of God usually in the form of the lectionary readings of the day. God comes to us in that word, but it also sets us up for the sermon. Usually, the sermon is drawn from the readings for the day and serves to proclaim the Law and the Gospel found within those passages. So that we may know our sin for what it is and repent, and once again be spoken free as the pastor proclaims how Christ buried that sin – high point number 3. And then we gather at the table where we receive a most undeniable gift of Jesus’ body and blood – high point number 4. All of these high-points come together to do one thing – turn every Sunday into Easter. For, each Sunday now becomes for the Christian the proclamation of being resurrected in Jesus as we are united to Him. And we are set free into a newly resurrected life. And there is no more encouraging news for the soul burdened by sin to hear than your past is gone and new life is yours.

Why would the Lord want me to go to church? Because I am a man burdened by the weight of my sin and my heavenly Father wants me to experience Easter in His gifts and set me free. He wants to give the good stuff.

HS Winter Retreat

A False Identity, A New Identity

I make no bones about it, I am a huge fan of college football – particularly Texas A&M football.  Fall is my favorite time of year simply kyle fieldbecause football.  I live it.  I breathe it.  And while quite fun, it is something of a danger.  Many passionate fans can attest to this phenomenon, when the team is doing great it seems like you are walking on air and when the team losses the entire weekend is a wasteland.  I recently noticed it in myself when my Aggies went from being ranked #6 to dropping off the polls completely after a three game skid.  I who had been imbibing all things college football suddenly was now actively avoiding sports news.  It was devastating to face the dashed hopes.  The sad part is that what happens to the team does not really impact my life.  If they win, it’s their victory.  If they lose, it’s their loss.  My life doesn’t change.  And yet, you would have thought I’d lost some one dear to me over those few weeks.  And I know I am not alone.  Just the other day I was reading an article that featured Tweets from fans reacting to their teams loss.  And in their Tweets I heard myself and it got me to thinking about how much my identity is wrapped up in Texas A&M Football.

It’s kinda of silly, really, that my identity is so wrapped up in  football.  But it is true none the less, when they win, I feel like a million bucks.   And when they are out scored, I feel like hiding.  Yet, as silly as it is, it is so like us.  We wrap ourselves up in an identity based on accomplishment even when the accomplishment is not ours.  You see it in the Cubs fan’s resigned, “There is always next year…”  And you see it the celebrations of the Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup.  We identify ourselves by success and accomplishments of our favorite teams.  The problem is they are all fleeting accomplishments. Even if we played on the team it would still be a fleeting for soon the next season is upon you and everybody asks what are you doing now.  And when we identify ourselves by these fleeting accomplishments we are giving ourselves a false identity.  These identities will not stand the test of time; they will all fade eventually.  We need a new identity.

In this ever changingbaptism-1 world we need an identity that will not ever fade.  And in Christ, we are given such an identity.  Paul writes “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  Galatians 2:20 (ESV)(Check out Romans 6 and see how this passage is related to Baptism)  We have been given a new life in Jesus, we have been crucified with Jesus and resurrected with Jesus, and in doing so our false identities have been put to death and we have been given our real identity as Paul would also write, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”  Galatians 4:4–5 (ESV)  Jesus’ gift to you is a new identity in Him.  He has given us a greater identity than the fleeting identities we have in sports teams.  Though much like the our fleeting sports related identities we didn’t actually do anything.  Jesus did all the hard work.  It was Him on the playing field.  Yet, the gift He gives us in crucifying us with Him and resurrecting us with Him makes us the victors.  And thus we are called sons and daughters even though we never lifted a finger.

Thanks be to God for giving us our real identity.

HS Winter Retreat

Manger

For the past 28 years, I have had the privilege of putting up the Manger scene every November and taking it down every January.  (Sometimes, when it was 5 below zero, or raining or snowing cats and dogs the ‘privilege’ part was a little questionable!)  I took-over from my friend and elder-partner, Bob Weber – now home with the Saints in Heaven. Someday, someone will take-over for me.  (You may consider that a request for help!)

Once, when we put up the Manger, I lost my wedding ring and we searched the straw for hours, trying to find it, but to no avail.  Miracle of all miracles, when we took it down in January, with 12 inches of snow on the ground, we found my ring!  God is Good!  But, where else would you expect to see a miracle, if not at the Manger of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

When we see that manger, it is a reminder of 2 important truths.  It Reminds us that THE BIBLE’S ACCOUNT OF JESUS BIRTH IS LITERAL AND RELIABLE and that CHRIST WILL LIVE WHERE ROOM IS MADE FOR HIM.    Here in the manger is visible proof that God does keep his promises, that God  loves each of us and all the world.  God is faithful and loving!  1 John 4:10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

O holy Child of Bethlehem, Descend to us we pray!
Cast out our sin and enter in; Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels and great glad tidings tell;
Oh, come to us, Abide with us, Our Lord Immanuel!

HS Winter Retreat

Cherry

November 13, 1909, Cherry, Illinois (Mendota-area).  259 men and boys die underground in a coal mine fire; the 3rd largest mining disaster in America’s history.  Eight days later, 21 are rescued.  This month marks the 102nd anniversary of that tragedy.  (Google the Cherry Mine disaster for the details, or read Karen Tintori’s Book ‘Trapped The 1909 Cherry Mine Disaster’ for an amazing account of the story.)

Kathy and I drove out to Cherry for the 100th anniversary of the event.  Not much to see anymore except the waste piles from the mine, and an old foundation or two.  Some signs document the event, but not much else; not much else except the cemetery.  It is an odd thing to walk thru that cemetery and see the gravestones of those mostly-Italian miners; row after row of tombstones with the same death-date.  Some of the bodies weren’t recovered for months, but nevertheless their markers carried the same date.  This cemetery was created because of that tragedy – and originally was for the miners-only; although today, many of their descendants are buried there with them.

Just as in the days of Noah when almost all of mankind was wiped out – literally on the same day – we look forward to a future date when this world and all life in it will end.  1 John 2:17:  ‘The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.’  Those 21 survivors of the Cherry Mine fire, trapped in darkness for 8 days, described their feelings upon seeing the light for the first time after they were rescued, as if they were viewing the Glory of Heaven itself.  They talked in terms of re-birth; or new birth – given a second chance at life.  As we recount our blessings this Thanksgiving Season, let us put our personal relationship with a loving God who called us into His marvelous light, at the top of the list.  We were dead, but now are Alive in Christ!   Praise God from whom all blessings flow; praise Him all creatures here below.  Praise Him above, you Heavenly hosts; praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost, Amen!

HS Winter Retreat

The Dash

Job 5:7  ‘Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.’  Job 8:9 ‘for we were born only yesterday and know nothing, and our days on earth are but a shadow.’   Job 14:1  ‘Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.’  You gotta hand it to Job, he sure could throw a wet blanket on life’s party!  Course, you can understand that given his situation.  Remember the story – Had everything, was on top of the world; then God took it all from him.  You can understand why he said the things that he said.  Funny thing though, this is what the first Chapter of the story tells us:  ‘In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.’   Job lived by this philosophy:  ‘You only control the Dash’.

Ever look at a tombstone?  They usually have a date the person was born, and a date the person died, separated by a ‘dash’.  We only control the dash – the time in between.  We do not control how God chooses to bless us, or challenge us, we only control our Attitude to the situations God lays before us.  It has been said:  ‘The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.’  

It’s times like these that ought to lead us to surrender everything to Christ.  Even after loosing everything, Job said this in Chapter 19  ‘I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God.’  What a great profession of Faith in our Risen Lord!  So, when your eulogy’s being read with your life’s actions to rehash…Would you be proud of the things they say about how you spend your dash??  (‘The Dash’ is a famous poem by Linda Ellis and can be read at this website:  http://www.sba.muohio.edu/snavely/415/dash.htm )

HS Winter Retreat

Scouting

When I was a teenager, I was in the Boy Scouts.  My dad was the scoutmaster of our Church-sponsored Troop – Troop 150 in Mishawaka, Indiana.  My appreciation of nature; and accumulated outdoor skills were developed and nurtured during those 8 years as a Scout.  I learned to swim during that time, and – as a result of that training – saved a little boy from drowning once.  I earned lots of ‘merit badges’ for practical things I still use today.  Over those teenage years, I achieved the rank of ‘Life’ scout – falling short of my goal of ‘Eagle’ scout because of entry into college.

Parents, I would encourage all of you to consider Scouting for your sons and daughters.  The values learned through scouting last a lifetime – learning accountability, self-reliance, teamwork and discipline are all good character attributes for any of us.  Adults, I would encourage all of you to consider participating in Scouting as adult leaders.  Hours of sacrifice to be sure; but the rewards are worth the effort.  I was there, first-hand, to see what it meant for teenage boys to develop a close relationship with my dad, their Scoutmaster.

In a way, I can picture the relationship between Jesus and his disciples much like scouting, in the sense that this group of men were being molded by Jesus for a mission of service and outreach in the world, in much the same way that Scouting leaders teach young people to become responsible citizens.   Proverbs 22 says  ‘Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.’  While we think of this verse in terms of Bible-based training, our kids should be associated with role models and leaders and peers outside the home and church that exemplify the best in Christian behavior.  (Scout Promise)  On my honor I will do my best To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.)

HS Winter Retreat

Bullseye

Did you ever do target practice before?  Shooting at something with a gun?  My Aunt Sherri (2 years older than me) used to have a b-b gun when we were kids, and we’d target-practice all the time.  As a teenager at Boy Scout Camp, they had a shooting range with 22 caliber rifle targets.  My brother used to get in trouble there, because not only couldn’t he hit the bullseye; he couldn’t hit the target!  He’d accidently shoot the clothespins holding the target and the instructor would think he was doing it on purpose.  My brother was a lousy shot!

What’s a bullseye?  Everybody knows it’s the center of the target – the spot you aim for. As Christians, we have a bullseye too.  Our bullseye – our center – what we aim for – is Christ; to be more Christ-like; to have an intimate relationship with Christ – to make Christ the ‘center’ of our life.   If we want to be in the center of God’s will, we need to be in the center of His Word.  

Did you know the Bible has a ‘literal’ center – a bullseye, if-you-will?  The shortest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 117; the longest is Psalm 119.  The ‘literal’ center of the Bible – Psalm 118.  There are 594 chapters before and after Psalm 118.  Add 594 + 594 and you get 1188.  What is the center verse in the Bible – the ‘bullseye’?  Psalm 118:8.  What does that verse say?  ‘It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.’  We spend so much of our life hitting the clothespins and falling short of the bullseye.   It’s time to refocus, re-aim and seek the bullseye – Our Lord, Jesus Christ!  Remember, when things get tough, our relationship with God doesn’t get us around trouble, it get’s us through it!

HS Winter Retreat

Praying Hands

Ever hear of Albert or Albrecht Durer?  They were brothers and both were promising artists..  Both wanted to go to college, but couldn’t afford it, so they hatched a scheme.  They flipped a coin; looser went to work in the mines to help pay for the other’s schooling.  Albert lost the toss and went into the mines; Albrecht went to school.  He became famous; a wonderful artist.  Time came for him to go home, and return the favor.  Long story short – Albert was unable to attend school because his hands were so broken and racked with arthritis he couldn’t hold a brush anymore.  This inspired his loving brother to produce one of the most famous artistic creations the world has ever known.  We call his work ‘The Praying Hands’.  (A replica of his brothers hands.)    The next time you see a copy of that touching creation, take a second look and remember, no one ever makes it alone!

Christ Have Mercy, How to Put Your Faith in Action’ (by Matthew Harrison) talks about relationships!  We were made for a relationship with God and with each other.  James 4 says ‘Come near to God and he will come near to you.’  My daughter graduated Salutatorian from her High School class and there was a lot of haughty talk about her accomplishment until I reminded her it was a rather small class!  She lost sight of the fact that self-made people often worship their creator.  (Think about that one).   I would urge you to do two things this week.  First, make a list of 10 people who helped you become who you are today and thank God for their presence in your life.  Second, pick someone who helped you in your life, and send them a thank you card.  Thank You Lord, for all the people You have placed in my life; the people who have befriended me; who have nurtured me; who have helped shape my character!  Ephesians 4:   ‘….walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.’

HS Winter Retreat

Cement – 3rd in the series

OK, I admit it. When I came to this point in my writing I was stumped. After all we have been looking at how God builds us as His temple. We have a plan in place and have dug out a hole. The question is now what? What is the next step in the process and what does it mean?

Well the next step is to build a foundation. To make it strong and able to stand up to the things of this world that is going to push against it. In simple terms you need concrete. Cement is powerful stuff. It is able to withstand all sorts of temperatures and weather patterns. So we need something just as powerful in our Spiritual Body. But what was it?

My mind was drawing a blank and I almost missed seeing the most important thing of all. The cement that we need to build our house upon: God’s Word. That is right the Bible, itself, is the cement that we need. After all a short look through it gives us hope and strength to endure through all sorts of things The Bible is in fact a rod and lamp unto my feet. (Psalm 119:105)  It is the word of God that David speaks of in psalm 23 Verse 4 where he calls it “A rod and a staff.”  It is this wonderful book that provides protection when the winds of this world blow against it.  It is the foundation that needs to be strong so we can handle the tough matters of life. A foundation built upon the cement of faith, in Christ and cemented if you will in the words of Christ. The living Word of God is what Jesus spoke of when he told the parable of the wise and foolish builders. (Matthew 7:24-27, Luke 6:47-49)

It is this word that we live on for more than our daily bread. Man cannot live on bread alone, but on the very word of God” Jesus tells Satan at his temptation in the dessert. So how do we do this?  That answer is simple: we spend time in the Word. We do so on a daily basis with our personal devotion and on a regular basis with the people of Christ. Time in the word should not be skipped by anyone. Mixing cement to build our foundation takes time. Time that we need to have. You have to mix it and smooth it out and form a foundation to build on. God’s word is that for us. After all when it comes to dealing with things in this life the Holy Bible has all the answers and that is a foundation we can build upon, because it always points to Christ and his rock solid promises