Retweet

Friday, July 31, 2015

Dreams

About 10 years ago, I attended a theological symposium at my alma mater Concordia Seminary in St. Louis.

I remember feeling that as I walked among the buildings that held so much promise for me when I was student in the early 1990’s, that there was so much more ahead of me. As I walked among the buildings with fallen leaves crunching under my feet, I reminisced about the past. At first I felt a sense of loss. Ten years after graduation, was I really where I thought I would be?

This was not the first time I had walked among those buildings with a sense of loss. Two years after arriving on the campus, fresh out of college, I didn’t have much hope for the future. Classes weren’t going well and I was distracted from my studies. I was thinking of giving up becoming a pastor. I felt that I missed something along the way. My life wasn’t turning out the way I had thought it would. But my life soon changed dramatically!

Ten years later, as I walked among the buildings again, I realized my life turned out better than I had hoped it would. It is vastly different from what I thought it would be, but it is so much better that I spend very little time now thinking about how my life could have been had this happened or that not happened.

This morning, as I walked over to the church office from the parsonage, the sky was dark with the remnants of a thunderstorm that had just passed. The air was thick with humidity just as it often was so long ago on my walks across the campus of Concordia Seminary. I found myself dreaming again. It has been 28 years since I first arrived at seminary. During the seven years I lived and studied among those buildings, I had dreams live and die. At the end of my time there, God gave me a new dream – one I would share with my new wife.

It has been a dream of what God could actually do with my (our) life. But it had taken almost 10 years for that dream to come into focus.

And as soon as that dream came into focus God revealed to me a new dream.

What do I want to do with my life? What is it that I want to do in God’s kingdom? I’ve been a pastor for 20 years. I’ve preached about 1000 sermons, led over 1500 Bible classes. I’ve taught Luther’s Small Catechism to 20 classes of children. God has used me to touch so many lives. I know I’ve messed up a lot along the way, but I have faith in God that He is the Almighty who can work through my messes.

I remember talking with a friend of mine about 10 years ago and he said that he felt that there was a momentous change coming in his life. He felt that God was going to be doing something in his life very soon. He didn’t know what it was. He didn’t know if it would involve a move away from where he was at the time or not (it did and not very long after that conversation). He only knew that God was going to do something dramatic in his life very soon.

That’s sort of like how I feel now. God has been preparing me for something. He’s brought me to this place in His kingdom. He has used me as His instrument of change. I feel that God is going to do it again – possibly soon but I’m not sure. I can see things working in my life, preparing me for something. Something that God will use to bring transformation to this world. Maybe not the whole world, but maybe the parts of the world that I come into contact with.

In the Bible, these kinds of moments often included God calling a person by name.

“Abraham….”
“Samuel….”
“Ananias….”

And when any of these people were called by God, they all initially responded in the same way.

“Here I am.”

Never, “Who are you?” They knew who it was! “Here I am,” takes faith. And that same faith is given to each of us through God’s means of Grace – the Holy Scripture, Holy Baptism – and strengthened through Holy Scripture and Holy Communion.

I believe God has called each one of us to be in this place “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).

He’s calling you and me by name.


Through the power of the Holy Spirit, let us answer, “Here I am.”

© 2015 True Men Ministries

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Smells

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2

Do you smell it? It is the smell of bacon frying. It is the smell of coffee percolating. It is Sunday morning. Worship starts in 3 hours. I amble through the kitchen toward these smells to start my day of worship. Somehow, it just wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t smell these things.

It is the smell of crunching leaves that have changed color and fallen. Of pumpkin pie spices and burning leaves. These are the smells of autumn (at least for me).

The smell of peanuts and stale beer. These are the smells of baseball, of a big-league ballpark.

The smell of pine and apple-cinnamon and mint. These are the smells of Christmas.

The smell of wine and freshly cut flowers. These are the smells of worship. This is what I smell as I stand at the altar preparing it for Holy Communion.

Smells are very powerful. They invoke feelings of seasons and events. The invoke memories (a whole episode of M*A*S*H was dedicated to this).

Smells are also part of our relationship with God. Starting in Exodus 25, God instructs his people to build a place of worship. There are specific items that are dedicated to smells. The Altar of Incense and various forms of incense would be used. Partly, I think, to have a distinctive smell associated with the worship of God. Partly to cover up the smell of all the sacrifices that would be made. But there is one more reason.

Our sin must raise a stink in God’s nose. The filth of our evil deeds. Our thoughts, our actions, must raise an awful stench to him.

How do we clean ourselves of this smell? I’m afraid it just isn’t possible for us to do this. No soap is strong enough to clean us of our sin. Oh, we certainly try. We apologize to those we wrong. Sometimes, if we’re guilty enough we will give money to the church or some charity to try to ease our conscience. But the smell lingers like smoke on your clothes after sitting around a campfire.

How can we get rid of the smell of sin in our lives? Sin has to be removed. It would be the love of Jesus Christ who “gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:2)


Each season has its distinctive smells, and that can help us remember that we smell pretty good to God because of Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection for us. The next time you walk into a kitchen to smell the good smells there, thank God that Jesus takes away your stinking sin and makes you smell good with his righteousness.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Going Home

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. Hebrews 11:13-14

In the movie “Cheaper by the Dozen” (the 2003 remake with Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt), the Baker family moves from a small town in downstate Illinois to an affluent suburb of Chicago. The oldest son of the family, Charlie, is very unhappy with the move.

I would think that most 17 year olds would be looking forward to a move like that, shaking the dust of the small town off their feet. But Charlie and the rest of the Baker children are not happy with the new move. They liked their life in the small town.

There are a lot of stories about young men and women who dream of leaving home, of leaving their small town and making their fortunes or a name for themselves in the big city.

When I was younger, this was my story as well.

I was in high school. It was the early 80’s. I was involved with my church’s youth group and went to church pretty faithfully. I was pretty grounded in the faith. But I also had dreams and desires about how my life would be and it didn’t involve professional church work. The early 80’s was the advent of the personal computer. And I was fascinated with them. I had graduated from a TRS-80 (Radio Shack’s model) to an Apple ][+ to an IBM PC (remember those commercials with the Charlie Chaplin look-alike?). I could program fairly well in the most BASIC of computer languages. I was no prodigy like my best friend Mike, but I enjoyed computers and thought I had a future in them. My dream was to leave Fox Lake and move on to the University of Illinois and then on to MIT to pursue a life in robotic engineering.

Of course, God had other things in mind and through my passion for history and, what I would later find out, ministry, I finally did leave that small town and moved to another, smaller town. But in-between I lived in a fairly large town (St. Louis, Missouri). That’s where I met my wife, so it did turn out that a big city would be in the plans at one point.

I’ve found that as much as I looked forward to leaving my small, home town when I was younger, I looked forward just as fondly to every visit I made back there. While my home was in various other places (White Cloud, Michigan, Mayville, WI, Upland, CA), I captured a little of feelings of home when I returned. What was especially nice was returning to that home with my wife and kids – I guess it’s sort of like having the best of both worlds.

Wherever I lived, I found myself listening to radio stations from near my hometown. Listening to their weather forecasts and traffic reports –while had no direct bearing on me where I was – it was comforting in a way because they were a part of the feeling of “home.”

Yet, with all these feelings of home –whether it is the hometown I escaped or the hometown I live in now – I’m not really home, am I?  I am really a “stranger and alien.” Living out my life here while looking forward, with hope, to my home that even now Jesus is preparing for me.

Heaven is my home and I’m but a stranger here. I will be going home someday because Jesus died to take away my sin. His death and resurrection transform my time here away from home, giving me purpose and direction. But Jesus’ death and resurrection also give me hope of a better place that a one-time carpenter from Nazareth is building for me now.

Ironically – and this is a wonderful insight into how God was preparing me for this very moment in life – I made my way back to my “home town” 15 years after being ordained into the Pastoral Ministry. My first call was in a very small town in rural Michigan, then I moved to a small town in Wisconsin. Then to an affluent suburb of Los Angeles.

But five years ago, my family and I moved back to Lake County, Illinois just a few miles from my home town of Fox Lake.


Isn’t it amazing how God works?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Sign of the Covenant

Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Jesus Christ came to save all of us from sin, death, and the devil.

Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross to pay the penalty for all of my sin, all of your sin, all of the world’s sin.

Jesus Christ rose from the dead three days later – proving that God accepted His sacrifice and will raise us up on the last day. Those who have faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will live eternally in heaven.

Jesus ascended into heaven and before He did He gave us this job: to make disciples of all nations.

That’s what I’ve been called to proclaim. This is what you all have been called to proclaim.

No matter what is happening in our world and in our own country – servicemen being gunned down by terrorists, high courts establishing laws, congress doing … whatever congress does, and the president du jour doing whatever he – or she – will do … it doesn’t trump (pun intended) what God has called you to do.

Proclaim the Gospel.

Use your gifts and talents to proclaim the Gospel. Proclaim the Gospel to your family and friends. Use the creation around you to proclaim the Gospel.

God says, “I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth” (Genesis 9:13).

The rainbow is God’s sign of the covenant that He made with His creation.

It happened a long time ago. The world was in pretty bad shape. The people were finding new and more perverse ways to sin. Does this sound familiar?

“[T]he wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).

“Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth” (Genesis 6:11-12).

Of course, we’re not told the nature of the corruption, violence and evil. But it must have been as bad – if not worse – than what we are witnessing today for God to decide to literally flush the entire creation away.

So God caused it to rain. Not like the rain we had last week. But a month and a half of so much rain that it covered the entire surface of the planet – even the mountain peaks!
But God is merciful. God has compassion. So Noah and his wife, his sons and his son’s wives are all saved – along with the animals needed to repopulate the earth.
To remind them of His compassion, God told them that when they see a rainbow, they should see it as a sign of the covenant – or promise – that He will never destroy the world by water again.

So, whenever it rained, and they saw a rainbow, they would remember God’s love and compassion and promise.

Why a rainbow? When light shines through a prism – like a drop of rain, for example – it breaks apart into a “rainbow” of colors.


God’s Covenant of Salvation to us – signified by the rainbow - reminds us that His salvation is singular but also multi-faceted. There is only one plan of salvation – His love through the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. Yet it comes to all people. It is one promise to all of us.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Jenny's Story

I’ve been looking for something. It isn’t really something I lost but something I never really had. I don’t want to go into the details, but I grew up in a typical family. Nothing really out of the ordinary. But after I moved out onto my own, I found I really needed “completeness.” Its hard to put into words, actually. There was something missing in my life. Maybe you know, or have known, what I mean. Some people call it a longing, a search for meaning, whatever. All I know is that I’ve been looking for it for a long time.

After a while – I don’t know when, really – I began thinking of it in terms of what I want instead of what I need. Maybe I never actually thought of it as a need. At any rate, I’ve searched for something to fill the want. I’ve searched in places I’m not proud to admit. Sex, drugs, drink. I’ve searched in all those places for what I wanted – without really knowing exactly what it was I did want. At first I did find what I wanted in them. They filled me with something I didn’t have as a little girl. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t into hardcore stuff. Drugs were never really my thing. I wasn’t a falling-down drunk, and I only had sex with those I really loved. Pretty average stuff, really.

But after a while, I realized that nothing really satisfied me. I wasn’t really getting what I wanted. I still couldn’t put my finger on what it was, exactly, but these things didn’t get it for me.

It was about this time I started to really learn about Jesus. Now before you tune me out, hear me out. I’m not one of those who tell their story of strife and woe and then I found Jesus and he made me all better and my life is full of joy all the time! I don’t’ knock those who have experienced it like that, but it isn’t my story.

One of my friends took me to church with her one Sunday. The pastor talked about the hope that can fill a person’s life – a hope only Jesus can give. There was no flash from heaven, no fire in my belly from a massive conversion experience. But this hope from Jesus intrigued me. I went back the next week and he talked about it again. I kept going, rarely missing. What I was hearing was comforting. I heard about faith and hope and love. I heard that Jesus died and rose from the dead for me. That all my sins were forgiven. That all my longings would be satisfied in Jesus. The pastor didn’t present this as if it was some one-time, instantaneous solution, either. Jesus’ hope and peace and grace were life-long gifts. I realized that this was what I wanted. I was searching in all the wrong places. I was searching for the wrong things. It wasn’t about what I wanted but rather what I needed. Somehow Jesus knew and He gave it to me.

Is everything perfect now? It sure would be great to tell you it is, but it isn’t. Life is better, though. I have a satisfying relationship with Jesus and brothers and sisters in the faith at my church. Jesus makes the difference because He took my sins away. And He continues to take my sins away as He fills my need. My life isn’t perfect (really, what is in this world?) but it is more fulfilling with Jesus as the center of it.

©2015 True Men Ministries
In My Father’s Footsteps – a free weekly devotional via the internet. You can subscribe here.
If you would like to support this ministry, make a contribution at our Go Fund Me website here.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Philip the Deacon

They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly…. – Acts 6:5-7

You know Peter, James, John and the rest of the 12 Apostles/Disciples. You’ve heard of Mary Magdeline and the other Marys. But what about those seven guys chosen to help the Church that were called “deacons”? They are first mentioned in Acts 6. We know their names. Stephen Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas.

Stephen is probably best known for being the first person to die because he confessed faith in Jesus Christ.  All we know of Nicolas is that he was from Antioch and a convert to Judaism. We know even less about Procorus, Nicano, Timon and Parmenas.

That leaves Philip. Philip had a few adventures that are preserved in the Book of Acts. He stands as a man who can be someone to look up to as an example of someone who was called by God and followed God’s leading. 

He shared the Good News about Jesus in the villages and towns of Samaria. He was in Samaria because a guy named Saul was really putting the pressure on the Christians in Jerusalem. He lived in Caesarea and we know that he had four daughters – unmarried – who also shared the Good News about Jesus.

Philip is probably best known for telling the Good News about Jesus to a eunuch from Ethiopia. God had Philip go to this Ethiopian – using an angel to get him there. God, in a special way, lead Philip to a special meeting.

What would have happened if Philip pulled a “Jonah” and went north instead of south? That’s a question that we need to ask ourselves. What might happen if we say “no” to God’s leading? Would someone never hear the Good News about Jesus? Are you comfortable with that?

If Philip said “no” to God’s leading, the Ethiopian might never have figured out what Isaiah 53 was all about. His very soul was at stake, and most likely the souls of countless others who otherwise would come to faith in Christ as he shares the Good News about Jesus that Philip shares with him.

This is an important lesson to us Christians today. It reminds me of a legend I’ve heard.
After Jesus had ascended into heaven, the angel Gabriel asked Him, “Who is going to carry on Your work now?” And Jesus answered, “I have left it to John and Peter and Andrew and the others.” Gabriel then asked, “What if they don’t do it?” Jesus answered, “I have made no other plans.”

Christ has no hands but our hands
To do His work today;
He has no feet but our feet
To lead men in His way;
He has no tongue but our tongues
To tell men how He died;
He has no help but our help
To bring them to His side.
(Burgess, David F.; compiler, Encyclopedia of Sermon Illustrations, (Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House) 1998, c1988.)

©2015 True Men Ministries
In My Father’s Footsteps – a free weekly devotional via the internet. You can subscribe here.
If you would like to support this ministry, make a contribution at our Go Fund Me website here.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Left Behind

"The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I have hope in Him." The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. – Lamentations 3:24-25

When I was seventeen, I had the opportunity to scuba dive in the Bahamas with my family and my best friend. It was an incredible trip.

A couple of years before, I took the classes to be certified to scuba dive. These classes involved some classroom work with a textbook and tests about the effect of gasses in the blood stream, different types of equipment and safety measures. Also involved was using the equipment in a swimming pool. The tests here were a little more challenging. I had to swim the length of the Olympic-sized pool underwater while holding my breath. It took me a little while to get to the point where I could swim the length of the pool underwater with no air. I was pretty impressed with myself when I could finally do it. But the next test was more challenging. I had to put on all the scuba equipment, dive to the bottom of the deep-end, take it all off, swim to the surface and then go back down, put it all back on and come back up. Upon successfully completing this test, I was joyful that only one test remained.

The final exam for certification was an open-water dive. Finally, I was going to get out of the pool and into some real water. The test was at an old quarry that had flooded. At its deepest point it was about 40 feet. The water was crystal clear but very cold. I had to don a wet suit for this dive. I finally felt like a real scuba diver. The tests were much the same – I had to ditch all equipment at one point, surface and then go back down and put it all back on.

One of the things that was stressed over and over during the whole class was that you never dived alone. You always dived with a “buddy.” Part of the final test was that one buddy had to take off his mask and the other buddy swam above him, holding on to his tank, and guided him by his underwater compass. We were given a course and then the buddy without the mask swam on that course, with the other buddy tapped on the right or left shoulder to make course corrections. My buddy – who was my best-friend – and I passed with flying colors and our parents gave us the gift of a trip to the Bahamas two years later. After making several open-water dives in the lakes of the Midwest, we were finally going to make some real dives in the crystal blue clear waters of the Bahamas!

We were able to make two major dives on that trip. We made a dive to about 30 feet and one at about 65 feet. If that doesn’t sound like much, believe me, it was! The water was as warm as a bath and the things we saw – coral reefs, huge fish of many colors. It was a scuba divers’ paradise.

On the second, deeper, dive, I remember I had trouble getting down to that depth. Because of the increasing water pressure, you have to “clear your sinuses” to compensate. Usually you either swallow (like on an airplane) or you pinch your nose through your mask and blow. I was having trouble but my buddy didn’t and he zoomed to the bottom and started exploring. I had to work very hard to get to the bottom and then catch up with him. He hadn’t noticed that I was slow in getting down to the reef and inadvertently left me behind.

Years later, my best friend and I went our separate ways. He went off to one university, I to another. He became very successful in his career working with super-computers and writing programs for the National Weather Service that made predictions of super-storms and tornados. I went into full-time ministry. We sent emails pretty regularly, and saw each other whenever we were both home for the holidays or other special occasions. He came to my wedding and when he announced he was getting married, I was all set to go to his wedding.

It was the spring of the year I was to be ordained. He asked me to perform the wedding for him and his bride. At first I joyously accepted. Then, in talking further with him, I found out that he and his fiancé had been living together for over two years. I see the Bible as very clear that this is not an acceptable start to a marriage. But they were getting married, so I figured I could talk to them about the forgiveness of Christ as he joins them together in marriage. But then they told me that she was agnostic and her parents were atheists and could I not mention God or Jesus during the ceremony?

I’m afraid that, like the time my buddy had left me on that deep-water dive in the Bahamas, I left him behind on his wedding day. I couldn’t, in good conscience, perform this wedding. But then I chickened out and didn’t even go to the wedding. I hope that I was less mature then than I am now. I can’t help but feel that I could have been more of a positive witness to my best-friend without compromising my faith.

But I can’t go back down to that dive again. It’s over and done with. There’s no going back. I live with my regret as I think about all the time that has past and I haven’t talked with my best-friend since. I hurt him and he couldn’t forgive me. I had broken the first rule of diving – I left my buddy behind.

Jesus has comforted me with his forgiveness and has brought me to a place that I believe I can better live with my regrets. I remain open to talking with my best-friend and reach out to him still. Jesus also gives me patience to wait until my buddy is ready for me.

I’ve learned to never leave a buddy behind since then. That doesn’t mean I let sinful behavior “just slide by.” Not leaving a buddy behind sometimes means the less-than-pleasant task of pointing out sin in their life – but always for their good! Always to lead them to repentance and the forgiveness freely given by Jesus Christ through his death and resurrection.

I don’t do much scuba diving anymore. However, the skills I learned I still use in my ministry and my daily, everyday life. When pressure builds, Jesus is there to forgive and relieve the pressure. And I never leave a buddy behind, just as Jesus never leaves me.

You may not scuba dive, buy you can be assured that Jesus never leaves you behind, that he is always with you no matter where you go.
©2015 True Men Ministries
In My Father’s Footsteps – a free weekly devotional via the internet. You can subscribe here.
If you would like to support this ministry, make a contribution at our Go Fund Me website here.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Like Grass

All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are like grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” – Isaiah 40:6-8

“Dad! Dad! Come quick! Come look!”

My oldest son, who was seven, came running into the house breathlessly excited. I ran outside and followed him around to the side of the house.

“It’s growing! It’s growing!” I looked and indeed, it was growing! The week before I had planted grass seed and now it was starting to come up. I have to admit, I was just as excited as my seven-year-old!

That summer I worked hard on my yard, fertilizing the lawn, spraying weed-killer, and planting grass seed in the bare spots. As I was working on my lawn and getting excited about the positive results (thanks to a lot of hard work from a member of my church – thanks Ken!) Isaiah 40 popped into my head.

Americans, especially American men, spend a lot of time on something that will, in the end, wither. It reminds me of so many men that put all their time and energy into fleeting things that will not last, and virtually ignore the things that will – like wife, children and their souls.

This hit home the other night at my son’s baseball game. I keep score for my son’s team. I’m thankful my dad taught me how to keep score! As I was sitting with the boys on the bench, calling out the line-up, a father came over to his son. I overheard him telling his son that he couldn’t stay for the game because he had to get home and cut the grass. The look on the boy’s face said it all. He was shattered. His dad wasn’t going to stay and watch him play baseball.

As a dad of three boys, I’ve seen how precious, and how little, is the time a mom or dad have with their children. It really is true that they grow up so fast! I have had to constantly remind myself that I can’t procrastinate with my kids like I do with most everything else. Like grass that is “here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire,” (Mt 5:30) children are only children for a relatively short time and then they are grown up and moving out of the house. I’ll always be dad. But they won’t always be my little boys.

I enjoy working on my lawn, especially seeing the positive results of my labor. But I enjoy infinitely more playing catch with my boys on my lawn. When I do, I build a bond with them that will outlast my lawn.

On occasion I have the rare privilege of sitting with my wife and boys during worship. Because my wife and I have shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ with our boys, we will have more than just this lifetime to enjoy with our boys. We will have an eternity in heaven with them because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I bet there will be a pretty decent lawn there, too!

©2015 True Men Ministries
In My Father’s Footsteps – a free weekly devotional via the internet. You can subscribe here.
If you would like to support this ministry, make a contribution at our Go Fund Me website here.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Where You Are

“Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.” – 1 Timothy 4:37-38

Just last week I was at a major league baseball game. I really like going to ball games. There’s just something about sitting there in the crowd, eating peanuts and drinking a soda under the bright lights and humid night sky, watching grown men play a game my seven year old son plays!

As Humphrey Bogart once said, “A hot dog at the game beats roast beef at the Ritz.” I think he was right!

I have this re-occurring fantasy that I’ll be at a game, sitting in the third row, and the manager of the home team will look up and point at me and say, “You want to give it a try?” I’d pop up, run down to the field, and suit up. Me, playing in the major leagues! Yeah, right. Like that would ever happen!

Just recently, I was talking with a brother pastor over breakfast about something similar. We were talking about – actually commiserating – the idea of campaigning for religious office. In my church, we elect by popular consent the presidents and vice-presidents of our synod and its districts. Yet, we also see it as God calling these men to these offices. Not exactly like he calls men to be pastors, but something close. As such, we thought that men shouldn’t campaign or seek these offices. As it is put in our church, “the office should seek the man, not the man the office.”

As a younger pastor, I had dreams of being a District President or a Synodical President. But after a few years, I’ve come to the conclusion that I probably won’t be and maybe I shouldn’t aspire to these offices. If God wants me to serve in that way, he’ll make it happen. As the years go by, I’ve realized that the office that I have been called to – the office of Pastor – is, indeed, a high calling. As St. Paul said, he who is aspire to be a pastor aspires to a “fine work” (1 Timothy 1:3).

But while we were talking, I began to think about a letter I recently sent out. In addition to electing presidents and vice-presidents in our synod, we also elect other positions. These positions are not “full-time” but rather positions of voluntary service to the church body in specific areas. I sent a letter seeking nominations for one of these positions – specifically a seat on the Board of Directors of our national church body.

I’m not seeking an office. I already have been called to one. But I do wish to serve my beloved synod in various ways. Our synod exists because we can do so much more in our large numbers than we can do as individuals or individual congregations. Each one of us finds our niche and does the best with the gifts God has given us.

Patrick Morley recent wrote about one of our goals as a synod. He didn’t know he was talking about our synod, but it hit home to me. He wrote, “A man said, ‘Wow, that seminar changed my life!’ This was quite discouraging to his pastor. He thought: Gosh, that speaker didn’t say anything to my men that I haven’t been saying for years! And he’s right! God can only reap through a seminar in proportion to what the pastor has sown through his weekly work. The pastor and the seminar speaker must both acknowledge that one reaps where another has sown—then give it all to God for His glory. God’s design is ‘that the sower and the reaper may be glad together’ (John 4:36).” (Discipling for Dummies, New Man Magazine, July/August 2003, page 66).

One of the most important things I’ve learned recently is that Christians must work together. I do see the importance of distinctive denominations of Christianity, but at some level, we all must work together with the one message we’ve been given. Jesus Christ died and rose again for all the world. The 2.6 million Christians in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod cannot possible reach the 7 billion people of the world. However, God has called us in the Missouri Synod to reach those who he brings to us (or brings us to). The hurting wife in the pew who feels lonely. The father who despairs over a son who has made some wrong decisions. The young woman who wants her friends to know how much a relationship with Jesus Christ can mean to them. The young man who feels an emptiness in his heart.

God wants a relationship with each of these people. He wants that relationship established through you. As Morley says in the same article, “As men tell one another their ‘stories,’ the truth of Christ’s gospel gets meaty and fleshy. Simply, I just ‘get it’ (the gospel) better when I see it working its way into your life!” (ibid.).

I’ve been called to serve as a pastor. I think God wants me to further use my gifts to serve in my beloved synod further (but I could be wrong). God also wants you to serve. He wants you to share your relationship with Jesus Christ with someone else. You may not know how to do that. Your pastor can show you how. Why not ask him? That’s what he’s there for!

©2015 True Men Ministries


In My Father’s Footsteps – a free weekly devotional via the internet. You can subscribe here.
If you would like to support this ministry, make a contribution at our Go Fund Me website here.




There was an error in this gadget