Giving God Control

GOOD MORNING,

I just wanted to send a letter to say “hello”. As the pastor here at Living Word I feel it is important to send out words to keep our minds on Jesus. If we listen to only the “News on TV” we will surely be in a state of unrest. When we are told the same harsh, depressing news over and over it can cause us to lose hope in God and His true ownership of this world. He has never given the “Deed to His Earth” to anyone. We say we own this world, but we must remember we are all just temporary. We have a lifetime lease on what we need for our daily bread but after that someone else will take charge.In this time of trial in our world we are living through huge changes.

So, what are we to do when we feel so scared and in so much doubt? Do we stomp our feet and say we want it back the old way; like a child with no experience, or do we learn to move forward and face the battle with a mature faith in God? Do we not only ask God for guidance but actually follow it. That may be the biggest set back in a true faith. We tell ourselves we are faithful to Jesus, we tell others we are truly faithful, He blesses us with many prayers answered and gives us rest, then we become like King Asa of ancient Judah. He too forgot it was by God’s grace he had been given so many blessings and a true peace.

A parishioner shared a devotional about the story of Asa, king of Judah in 2 Chronicles this morning. King Asa was truly a great example of someone in the world that had God’s blessing, when he followed God’s guidance. But like anyone who takes the control of their lives too tightly and pushes God out, he lost everything in a short time.

2 Chronicles 14 : 2-6

Asa King of Judah

Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God. He removed the foreign altars and the high places, smashed the sacred stones, and cut down the Asherah poles. He commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and to obey his laws and commands. He removed the high places and incense altars in every town in Judah, and the kingdom was at peace under him. He built up the fortified cities of Judah since the land was at peace. No one was at war with him during those years, for the Lord gave him rest.

He was at rest, things were good. And THEN:

2 Chronicles 16 : 7-9

At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him: “Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand. Were not the Cushite’s and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horsemen? Yet when you relied on the Lord, he delivered them into your hand. For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.”

King Asa lost his understanding of what true faith was. He decided he could do it on his own. He lost his commitment to the Lord and depended on the riches of the world to give him peace.

We are all in different stages of faith in this life. That is part of being human in nature, it is also a part of our sinful nature. The part that takes our eyes off Jesus and our Father in Heaven. The war against the Covid virus will be won if we keep our eyes and minds on our guidance from God.

Jesus’ final command:

Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV)36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”What does “love your neighbor” look like? Well it may be staying close to home while there is a chance you could spread this virus .It may look like a mask over your face; to possibly not spread your germs to someone else. It may look like something you never imagined before. I know it looks like the actions of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He never tried to take control from His Father, and He gave peace to everyone He met.

Take your minds off the world and trust in God every moment, watch how fast you will find peace and as the last line in 2 Chronicles 14 : 6 tells us:

“No one was at war with him during those years, for the Lord gave him rest

The Lord is the only one that can give you true rest. Love Him and then your neighbor. God is Good all the time and FOREVER.

In His Service

Pastor Scott

Storms or even tax day catch you off guard?

The date was April 15th, 1986. The day started like any other, I was working to help get the new Timpte trailer plant up and running in Wayne NE. There were 21 of us that had traveled to David City for 6 months; to train on how to build refrigerated  semi-trailers for Timpte Corp. at their new factory. Being the designated lead people in the new facility we were helping get the final details in place.

It was tax day like every year, one of my coworkers made the comment “I need to get my tax return to the post office for a date stamp. We have to go home right at the buzzer.” See, I had moved to Carroll Ne. about 12 miles west of Wayne, from there we car pooled to our new job. Well to our surprise, it had started to snow.  It snowed so hard there wasn’t enough room for all the flakes to come down together. I swear snow balls were forming as it fell. That was a bad storm.

It was April 15th, the farmers were planting corn, the new calves were on the ground; why was this white stuff falling. Well Sam says “I have to get my tax return in the mail, I am trying to get home. Come with me for the ride, we’ll make it.”

Me being young and tough, not scared of a little snow, I say sure. Well we got about a half mile past the edge of town, where the trees quit and we could see nothing. We are in a “Pontiac Sunbird”, for those of you who don’t know cars a “Sunbird” was just a little smaller than a red coaster wagon. It was front wheel drive, so it would crawl over a snow bank just enough to get high centered and not be able to drag the rear end through. Well after getting stuck  a couple of dozen times, we made it back to the factory building. To our relief a plan had been made, for those who were staying, safe and warm and dry, they were taking us to a house the owners of Timpte had rented just a few blocks away, they were furnishing pizza and refreshments and a warm place to sleep until this all blew over. Of course we went along with this better plan. The next morning the sun came up and it was a beautiful day. We went to work a little smelly, but happy we were there.

The point of this story; there are times in our lives when storms of different kinds will catch us off guard. The plans we have made, the duties we put off until the last moment will drive us to do things that cause us harm. Sam never got his tax form in the post office that night, he knew it should have been done long before that final day. He thought everything was going to be “Normal” and he would do what he always had done: “put it off till the last moment.” But life changed. I never heard if he got a penalty for being late, it was never talked about again. I think back of the risk he took and the risk I took following his lead. I could have lost my life because of his terrible decision to lead, and my worse decision to follow.

We will all have those moments in our lives. Jesus tells us to follow Him. To trust Him, not to follow the “Sam’s” in this world.   He tells us He is the Way the Truth and the Life. But we decide we are invincible and don’t need His advice. We follow the people around us that are trying to show the rest of the world they have a better idea, but too many are running to cover up the mistakes they have made before; not being part of a good plan.

It is hard to be in charge of your life sometimes, not to be led in a wrong direction. Jesus gave us the road map to life, it is called believing in Him and His words. It will bring us great joy in the end. As this Covid virus causes us to change the way we always did things, look forward to the day after. When the sun comes out and we are so glad we stayed put. God is with us, our world has been going out into the storm without a good plan for many years. If we make our way back to Him he will show us the right plan that will be good for all.

Stay Home, Stay safe, Weather the storm where you’re at. Trust in God for your peace. The road to “where we were” the road to “normal” isn’t safe right now. We need to stop and find a new plan. Just like me and Sam and our trip to the post office, we need to stop and wait till tomorrow.

Our church (that’s us) here at Living Word is a vibrant living thing, I appreciate the donations that have been coming in. I love the cards of hello’s and support. I know we will all get through this if we just wait until the storm passes. It is out of our hands right now. As if we were ever in control. God’s peace and God’s blessings to all of you from the One who holds you in His arms. Jesus Christ our Lord

Pastor Scott

PS: We will continue to record services and post them on-line. We will have communion next Sunday the 26th of April so have your elements ready.

Holy Week

Good Morning and Blessed Holy Week from Living Word Lutheran Church,

            It is- Holy Week!

No matter what is happening in the world; this week of remembrance and reflection of the life of our Lord and Savior is eternal. It is easy to get distracted by the worries of this place we call home but Holy Week will never end. See I believe we will worship Jesus in Heaven in this same type of remembrance for His return to His Father’s side. How can we not honor and praise Him for coming to us. Leaving His place in Heaven to come and lead us to our place with Him!

That is the key point in His return, Jesus never came back to force us to believe, He came back and like a shepherd does his sheep, he came to lead us to greener pastures. The unfortunate part is like any shepherd knows there will be sheep that “Just won’t listen” they get an idea in their heads and you can’t seem to stop them. But that is part of life. We as the good sheep will follow our shepherd’s voice and through any peril will end up in a good place.

As I wrote that last line I couldn’t help  but think back in my life when I was younger, on how many times I heard the statement “ Oh yes, follow like a good little sheep, follow the crowd and be one of them”. It was meant to be an insult, a way the “wild” kids would make you feel like you were doing the wrong thing. A way to make you believe the right way was the wrong way. Do any of you remember that? And the worst part for a young boy was; to feel tough or like an outlaw, you would leave the safety of the group and end up in a terrible place, in trouble, and paying the price for your deliberate actions of doing what you knew was wrong. Sin is active at a very young age in our lives, that is why it is so important to teach our youth at a very young age which shepherd to follow.

That is what this week is about. To remember, to tell the story, to teach our youth about Jesus Christ. Again as I look back, even as I was doing those things I knew better than doing, my parents never quit taking us to church, they never quit showing us the Bible, never quit making us watch “The Ten Commandments” on TV as a family. I truly believe now as I grow-up that movies like that were a real God send. First off it was made so Biblically accurate for their abilities, second is the fact  the movie was made and has lasted this many decades. Third it was a way to see and hear the Bible come to life and see the faith and the lack of faith of our ancestors. I truly believe it strengthened many people’s knowledge of God.

The trials that have come to pass these last couple years during Holy Week have been major. With the floods of 2019 and now the Covid of 2020 it would seem that God has taken His blessings from our world. But when we look back at the Bible stories, the only times when God left the world be conquered and left in distress is when the world left Him. When we decide we don’t need a Shepherd and that we are in control, and just like those wild sheep that you have to let run, God is watching. He will save those who realize they are lost and want to come home. It makes me think of the movie, when Moses went up the mountain for those 40 days and nights and the people listened to the evil Dathan and made the golden calf. They left their faith in God behind for a human scheme. They left God out of sinful ignorance. But as this was happening there were many that stayed true to God. They were the ones that were allowed to go into the promised land after 40 years in the wilderness. I am not sure if we are in a wilderness or if this is a loss of God’s blessing but I know if we stay true we will be given our reward in the end.

There is a day coming that we will see the power of God right before our eyes. Right now we will celebrate that day through the eyes of our ancestors recorded in the Bible. Sunday is the day we will glorify Jesus for His power over sin and death. It isn’t about a bunny like the world would lead us to believe, it isn’t about eggs which was a pagan ritual that early Christians tried to adapt into a Biblical theme. The day is about an empty tomb and our way to eternal life. Our young people need to know this truth or they will be the lost in the wilderness when the world gets dark. Stay strong in your faith through these difficult times. Keep believing and keep praying, God has not left us He is just watching to see which way we will go.

Pastor Scott

P.S. I have had several discussions about our drive-in service and I believe through prayer and discernment we will not be doing a outdoor service. With the “stay at home order” by our health officials and our governor, I truly believe to conquer this  virus in our world we need to stay apart. It is just one of the sacrifices we have to do to stay ALIVE! I know this will be hard news to hear but I cannot ask our congregation to risk being infected and spreading it to their family members. I can’t imagine having it spread throughout our congregation even with protective measures. The other reasons we are cancelling is; it will be quite cold Sunday morning with a good chance of snow, and last; our license to broadcast over the air is not official yet, there have been many changes to the laws and it is a jungle to be assured we won’t be in violation. I am sorry to give this news but like a good sheep-dog I must nip at heals at times to keep the flock following our Shepherd; Jesus Christ.

In Service to Him

P Scott

Waiting Quietly

Lamentations 3

22Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.

23They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for him.”

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
26 It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

 

Waiting quietly, not a very common aspect of our world is it? It is because we are going too fast. With Satan’s help, he got us to try to; make time for everything with no time for anything. He took our minds off of the one who provides for our every need and got us to focus on “the need” itself. We need to stop and look to God again.

When we look back; it is amazing how we were persuaded to give up our peace in the Lord. The Sabbath was the day God rested. He is God and He needed rest. We somehow have been convinced that we need no quiet time. We have been taught we can just focus our ever-busy minds on a different subject and gain peace by doing so. This is not real peace. We have to stop and let the world go past for a while

See, we were designed for quiet time. That is why God gave us a Sabbath day. It is why He invites us to take His day and do no work. It is why He invites us to His house to join Him in a time of rest. A time with no expectations from any human being. A time to just breath in and out and listen for the Holy Spirit. To listen to the Word and be encouraged, to find peace, and to look for hope in Him.

Our ability to “wait quietly for our God” has been interrupted. With work, and sports, and personal reasons we have put many things above our need for our Savior. The need to come to church and relax has been discarded. See, I truly believe this is where we learn the ability to wait quietly on our God. It is where our children become mature, listening, caring young people. They get a chance to slow down too.

If you do not know what church is, I pray that you would come. It is here you will learn to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. He will give you rest; He will give you peace, He will help you understand that all good things come from Him. Let us all wait quietly and put our hope in Him. He is Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

(During this time of pandemic, I encourage you to find our service online at Livingwordseward.org, OR a service on TV, it will give you a quiet time. Too much broadcast news will rob you of your peace.)

Just My Thoughts

What are some other character traits of a humble person?

  1. The humble can always ask for help, and they don’t insist on everything being done their way.
  2. They are quick to forgive others, difficult to offend, and content to wait on God for vindication when they have been wronged.
  3. They are patient and don’t get frustrated with the weaknesses of others.
  4. The humble person is a peacemaker. In fact, we needhumility to maintain peace in our lives.
  5. A humble person knows when to be quiet. It’s certainly not wrong to talk, but a humble person is comfortable allowing others to have center stage and doesn’t feel the need to speak their mind in every situation.
  6. A humble person sees their own weaknesses and can readily admit them. When we open up to others about ourselves, it can actually encourage and help them realize they’re not the only ones who deal with things.
  7. A humble person happily serves other people, and they don’t do it to impress others. They do it unto God, knowing their reward will come from God.
  8. A humble person is verythankful. This is one reason they’re usually so happy. When we live with an attitude of gratitude, it releases joy and power into our lives.
  9. A humble person has a tender conscience and is quick to repent.
  10. A leader who is truly humble treats everyone with respect. How a leader treats people is the quickest way to find out their level of humility.

First Peter 5:6 says, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you.”

 

QUESTIONS

I asked God to take away my pain. God said, No. It is not for me to take away, but for you to give it up.

I asked God to make my handicapped child whole. God said, No. Her spirit was whole, her body was only temporary.

I asked God to grant me patience. God said, No. Patience is a by-product of tribulations. It isn’t granted, it is earned.

I asked God to give me happiness. God said, No. I give you blessings. Happiness is up to you.

I asked God to spare me pain. God said, No. Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to me.

I asked God to make my spirit grow. God said, No. You must grow on your own, but I will prune you to make you fruitful.

I asked for all things that I might enjoy life. God said, No. I will give you life so that you may enjoy all things.

I ask God to help me LOVE others, as much as he loves me. God said… Ahhhh, finally you have the idea.

 

Why Drugs

I was listening to a News cast the other night and they said addiction to “Opiates” was at an all time high. Records are being broken for the number of overdoses causing deaths in this country. It hurt my heart to think that so many people are looking for an escape from this life and that they are losing their lives to a cruel end.
What is happening that so many people hate their lives? We are one of the most educated countries in the world, so ignorance on the effects of drug addiction is not the issue. We actually have one of the highest standards of living of any country in the world. Sure there are poverty stricken areas in our country, but need is almost non-existent compared to many third world countries. Unfortunately statistics show that most drug addiction is in middle class America. The money is more available; so having money is not a cure but a symptom. In fact the majority of middle class drug abusers end up in poverty before they quit.
So WHY do we do it? Have lost our reason for living? Ask someone why they are alive sometime and what will be the answer. “I don’t know “is common or “To have as much fun as possible” is another great myth. “To live and die” is one of my favorites. We are floundering in frustration and a lost sense of values; people don’t know who they are anymore.
Time goes by either too fast or we are bored to death. Our ability to manage our daily existence has somehow been lost. We seem to search for a reason for living but can’t find it. Life is so much more than having fun or just being alive to die. The art of just being alive to enjoy God’s world has been put so far back in our minds we no longer understand the simplicity. Drugs have become a way to leave this existence and not think about who we are and who we could be.
The problem with drugs is they are a FAKE answer to any problem. The few moments that a person “gets away” don’t begin to cover the miserable hours of terrible existence that follow; the hours that person tries to get money to support the monster they have to feed.
The person that introduces another person to drugs is a selfish fool. They are demon possessed as bad as any rapist or murderer on death row. The issue is after the initial dose the new person’s mind is forever flawed also.
So what is the answer? Well God has given us an answer in His Spirit if we listen.
Jesus went through everything we have ever dreamed of and more. Did He do drugs? “No!” He showed us the tool we have to make it through the torment and trials. Prayer is that tool. God has given us the power to overcome anything in this world. We can talk to Him any time of day.
We may be bombarded by the world’s hate and lies and foolish theories as “man” tries to show his authority. But with God’s guidance we can overcome all our problems.
With true love and help from each other there wouldn’t be need or a want to leave this world by doing any kind of drug. We would be too busy showing others how to live life in a way that was satisfying; in a way that would fulfill all desires for joy and happiness, in a way that at the end of the day we could be proud of.
So where do we go to find this life style? Well if you look real close it already exists in a building called the church. It is God’s house and He makes the rules there. No drugs allowed, no Satan allowed, only prayer and healing. Think about how fulfilling it could be, to be part of a place that is known for helping during the disaster not coaxing you to become part of the heartache.
Drugs; Man’s way of coping for a moment. Faith; God’s way of curing for eternity.
Just My Thoughts
Pastor Scott

Cause or Effect?

From the Pastor’s Desk:

Cause or Effect?

What is the cause and what is the effect? I often wonder why we put so much time and effort into working on the effects of our problems, and so little into the cure of the cause. Even as children we are told “Don’t do this or that because you could get hurt” or “I wouldn’t do that if I were you” Somewhere in the course of life we decided it doesn’t mean us and we do it anyway. When do we reach that point in our existence that we decide we are invincible and get to do it our way?

Take car accidents; according to the site drivers.com, Distracted driving, speed, and drunk driving are the three leading causes of fatal car crashes. How heartbreaking is that? The times in our lives when we are in control of the biggest, fastest, heaviest piece of equipment that any of us will ever use and we don’t care enough to watch what we are doing. Then we speed, so we can get into an accident sooner. Let alone being impaired by alcohol or drugs. Now honestly when you take down the shield of excuses of why you just had to do what you did, it looks pretty simple to solve. Watch the road, slow down, and don’t drink and drive. Wow we just solved the cause. Now we just have to do that every time we get behind the wheel and car wrecks could be almost avoided, thus changing the effects.

Life gives us choices; God gives us free-will to choose our destiny. When we choose not to follow the laws of the land we will get hurt. When we choose not to follow God’s commands we will get hurt. Adam and Eve started the fall and it has only gotten worse. So how do we change our view of the causes so we can stop trying to clean up the effects?

First we must understand it is going to take a lot of time. Second we have to choose to change. Our laws tell us “we have to follow the law or pay the fine”, God tells us “we have to believe in His Son or we will surely die”, and our sinful nature tells us “they can’t tell us what to do.” I think I have just found the solution to the cause.

Our sinful nature must be taken under control. Our hearts and minds must change. The Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ are the only way this will happen; without the Holy Spirit we can’t gain control, and Jesus Christ has the only true answer. We must choose to accept His help even when our sinful nature says it’s not needed. Change the cause and the effects will follow. God has the answer but only if we will follow the teaching. It’s up to us to change.

 

 

Easter is About Jesus! (Not a Bunny)

Do we live like people of Easter? Did you know the dictionary doesn’t mention the Easter bunny in its definition? Now don’t worry I’m not protesting the Easter bunny but I am protesting our first priority. When Easter is (sold) on TV and in stores, it is all about eggs and a magic bunny that brings kids candy etc., (Jesus is in the back isle by the religious stuff)

Our religious holidays were started and remembered for a much more important reason than to make them into a sales plan. Easter is honored as the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead and fulfilled His promise of eternal life for all who are baptized and believe in Him.

As with all things we need to be careful of the origin. The egg was pagan tradition before it was used as any part of Christianity. The egg was the symbol of new life and the coming of spring. The Easter egg is not a holy symbol but a “Scramble of pagan and Christian tradition”.

The Easter bunny is another pagan tradition that has made it to main stream through the art of salesmanship and desire. Desire? , wow pastor that is quite a word to use. I use it because the Easter bunny is known for bringing baskets of goodies and treats; it fulfills our desire of stuff. There is a huge line between our celebration of an animal bringing us what we want and our Savior dying on the cross and giving us what we need; the Forgiveness of our sin.

So why am I talking so negative about some simple, good, wholesome traditions. Well it’s my job; not to talk negative but it’s my job to remind people that there is more to faith in Jesus Christ than following the traditions of a culture. See many of those traditions can lead us away from our faith in Jesus Christ without us ever noticing. It’s when we combine secular and Holy ideas together that we end up with a watered down, weak Faith that is “Luke Warm”;

Revelation 3:15-17

15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 

We have a Holy holiday of Easter to reflect on; we have a Holy holiday of Christmas at the other end of the year. Let’s keep them Holy; about the God who they are meant for. Let’s be People of Easter, worshipping our “Risen Lord” all the time, every day, every minute.

Be “Hot” for Jesus others will see your “Reason for the Season”.

Just My Thoughts

Compassion

Compassion; just another person not being held to the hard truth, after all if we have compassion on everyone they are not getting what they deserve. They may need to be taught a lesson. Sounds familiar right? The problem is if we take the act of compassion and make it a judgment call we have just hurt ourselves as well. The Bible uses the word compassion or compassionate over 80 times. Most were referring to Jesus Himself.

Matthew 9:36 (NIV)
36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Matthew 14:14 (NIV)
14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
So if Jesus has that much compassion on people and even went to the cross for them, what’s our hang up with having compassion?
It’s simple we have made compassion an earned right. Those people in prison; they get too much compassion. The victims don’t get any revenge for what happened. Or the illegal aliens; those people need to go home, who wants to give them any compassion. Or the kids caught up in gangs on the street; they need to be locked up and taught a lesson. Or the drug addicts, and drunks, etc.
I can go on for hours but the point is compassion should have started long before the illegal stuff happened. The kids shooting up schools; how can you have compassion on them!!? Well they weren’t born killers. They were kids just like any other and the world said “let the strong survive”. Maybe if someone would have had compassion and noticed the hurt in that child’s life when they were growing up, and helped them get better we wouldn’t be cleaning up the mess now.
As we read in; Matthew 22:37-39(NIV)
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.
Loving our God as well as our neighbor requires compassion. It is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. It takes a stronger man to hold someone up than it does to knock someone down. What if it were you that had the problem in your life? Should we knock you down or hold you up? Compassion is not a choice, it is a command. Let’s get the definition correct, and remember it starts with us.