Ever had a habit? I still do. Habits aren’t bad; it is what you do in your habit that can make it undesirable. I have a habit of taking my medication in the morning; I have the habit of petting my cat before I leave the apartment in the morning. I think that may be the cat’s idea but it still doesn’t hurt anything.
I used to have a bad habit years ago. It was killing me. I smoked cigarettes like a mad man. I was sure I needed those cigarettes as much as the air they were taking away from me. I knew better, but how was I going to break the bad habit? First I wasn’t worried about it, second there was always tomorrow. Unfortunately it takes something more powerful than the addiction to make our minds let go. In my case it was the diagnoses of possible cancer. Long story shortened I went for a hearing test and the doctor says he must look me over first. After a short examination I was in a room with a video camera down my throat. Following a few ooos and ahhs between the nurse and the doctor he spun me around in the chair and there it was; my throat from the inside. It was covered in black spots to which the doctor said “these spot are either step four of five of throat cancer or it is the tar from your cigarettes deposited on infection in your throat.” Well when I got my heart back into my chest, after all it was pretty devastating news, I asked the doctor “What next?” He said go home, quit smoking, come back in two weeks, if the spots are gone you will be alright. If not two weeks is not going to make a difference in the outcome. I was devastated; needless to say I never smoked another cigarette after that. The good news was that when I went back He put the camera in and everything was pink and perfect. His only words to the results were,” I don’t mind fixing things that nature messes up, I HATE repairing things we mess up ourselves for stupid habits. Congratulations you are in perfect health.”
I knew I was hurting myself but I continued doing the wrong thing. Why??
Well it’s called sin. When we do things that are against the common sense of right, when we ignore the warnings and the facts; it is our sinful nature in control. There is no part of sin that is good for us; it gives us our bad habits.
So let’s look at the facts; we are dying from our sin. We are destined to eternal damnation for the price of our sin against God. There is a cure for this damnation, it is called Jesus Christ. He died on the cross in our place to conquer sin and death. So by believing in Him, being baptized, taking part in the sacraments, and most importantly attending church services regularly we can destroy death and the effect of sin on our lives.
Like the habit of taking my meds to help with my already bad habit caused physical ailments, Church is good habit that can help cure our sinful bad habit ailments. As the New Year starts give yourself a new habit; start putting Jesus Christ in your life every day. The power in this habit will be the way to cure the old bad habits that are destroying your joy and your life. Give Him the chance to change you for the better.
As I look back over the year it always amazes me on the direction God has taken our lives. This is not only for my wife and I, but the whole church. See when God puts His plan in place it affects people from so many different places. I can’t help but to remember a story that was told to me years ago. Maybe you have heard a different version, but this is how it was told to me.
See life is like a two seated bike. When we are young we want to be in charge. We get on the bike and take the front seat. Taking hold of the handle bars deciding on which direction we must go. We spend hours and hours steering and pedaling, getting ourselves into places that we struggle to get out of. We work so hard trying to get to the place “We” have set our sights on. The whole time Jesus is behind us watching and wondering why we went the way we did. When we finally can’t pedal any more we stop and give Him the front seat. The first thing He says is “Hold on and get ready for the ride of your life.” As you watch Him take you to places you’ve never imagined, as beauty comes alive in areas you have never seen anything but sorrow, you feel a peace. And then you realize your feet aren’t touching the pedals. You aren’t trying to be in charge anymore. You have been reborn. You are following the Lord and Savior of your life. Jesus has taken your burdens and made them Joys. He has done just what He promised;
Matthew 11 New International Version
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
May you give Jesus the front seat in the New Year; just be ready “For the RIDE OF YOUR LIFE.”
The Advent story,
We all have heard the story of the birth of Christ. The story has given “birth” to many traditions and scenes that may not be totally accurate. Our mangers are cute little structures with straw lined stalls and beautifully dressed people in grandeur; but what of the real manger scene? It is thought the manger was probably a stone structure, since wood was not very plentiful in that area. It would have been cold and damp for the time of year. It was not a place of honor by any means.
This is where our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ came to be on earth. No one can say “I had it worse”; He started at the bottom and worked His way Up. That is the message He has always given us. The humble will be exalted. Now in our society we have a habit of putting a price on things. Humbleness has no price. The richest man in the world can be humble and the poorest can be proud and arrogant. It’s what’s in the heart that God looks at. In this time of self examination let us look at our hearts and not our wealth and determine “Am I truly humble?” with or without my stuff.
Advent is the story of a savior who came to us in His special way to include all. He gave hope to all people. “Hope” the emotion that keeps the sickest patient breathing, the weakest child walking, and the lowest sinner praying. Jesus gives us Hope in Eternity.
Advent is the time to look at our lives to see if we are ready. We have no part in our salvation except to be “Prepared” We prepare by our belief in the one true savior Jesus Christ our Lord, by our baptism into His family, and by our continued faith and participation in the sacrament of Communion.
These are not works for salvation they are acts of love from the “Joy” of knowing our savior. The Joy one can only feel when knowing they are loved by a God that will never leave them.
“Love” a part of the human life that can’t be explained in simple words. It is more than emotions, it is action and reaction, it is physical and mental, it is more than words can touch.
“Jesus Christ is the Reason for the Season” No one else could do what He did, and no one else would try. He is Hope, Joy, and Love in one person. He is the only way to the Father. Praise be to His name and praise be to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen
There is a song that was made popular a few years back called “Mary Did You Know?” The words are so amazing when you look at the circumstances, I couldn’t say it better:
Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered will soon deliver you
How could such a very young woman understand any of these questions?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God
Kissed the face of God!! She really did just that.
Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding is the great “I Am”.
The great “I Am”, do we today really understand the term the great “I Am”?
This night of remembrance I would like you to ponder the words of this song and put yourself in Mary’s place. Then in real time I would like you to ponder the thought that all these things” ARE” real and are part of “Your story”.
Had the pleasure of attending the Seward High School Band/Choir concert the other night. It is so amazing watching the young people’s talent. The best part is there are many in other activities that I haven’t had the opportunity to meet, and am waiting to see. In our society we sometimes overlook the work and dedication these youth put into their “extra” activities. I love to watch youth participate in hard work because they “want” to, not because they “have” to. The outcome of their dedication gives so many times over. I watched the social aspect of people coming together to see the talents. I watched the self-esteem of the youth go up with the smiles of their parents and grandparents. I watched the youth support each other as part of the same group with the same goals. I watched the feeling of Joy fill the theater as people forgot about their frustrations for a short time. We have to strive as parents to support our youth when they want to do things that are honorable. It is what will make our world great again. When we use our God given talents to the support of each other we will be blessed in so many ways. Hard work is not something to be abandoned; it is the root of good character and self worth. Give me the pride of a job well done and I will be complete, give me everything for nothing and I will be constantly searching for more.
Matthew 25:21 [Full Chapter]
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
FROM THE PASTOR’s DESK:
I was at the car wash the other day, talking to the attendant. “Nice weather we’re having,” I said. To which the attendant replied, “Yea we’re going to pay for it.” I drove away with a thought in my head. “WHO and WHY are we going to pay for it?” It is just nice weather.
We live in a world of constant doubt and distrust. Have you ever noticed when you try to do something nice for someone they seem to get worried? It is a frightening state to be in when we cannot accept gifts of kindness and love. When someone gives you a present, remember their joy is multiplied by the joy of you receiving it. Jesus Christ gave us a present. Our sins are forgiven and eternal life is ours with His death and resurrection on the cross. Do we say thank-you and receive His gift? Do we smile ear to ear and say “Wow, You did that for me!” or do we walk around saying “I can’t accept Your gift?”
Let’s go past the thought of “We’re going to pay for it” and give Jesus the glory for His gift. All we have to do is believe in Him and accept His gift with joy. As the Christmas season approaches fast, practice the art of receiving good gifts and the joy of giving will be even better.
As we start this season of emotions I can’t help but look back at my own life, of course it is the one I know the best. When we are young the Christmas season is one of excitement for many reasons. We look forward to programs at school, gift exchanges with classmates, and the ever waited for “Christmas Vacation”, after all we were worked quite hard in school. Playing in the snow and of course the extra chores Dad always had figured out. In church it was the Christmas Program and the extra services, and the Pastor talking about the baby Jesus and Mary and Joseph, Christmas carols and a tree in the front of the church. It was all quite magical. As I look back there always seemed to be two worlds; the Santa Claus and presents world that was advertised so much in the papers and on TV. And then there was the other world, the quieter side, the one of family, grandparents, and special treats and cookies, and the song Silent Night at the Christmas Eve service that made some people cry and others just very somber. I sometimes long for that quiet side, as our world seems to be overtaken by the commercial side of a “Holiday season.” My prayer is that you and your families hold tight to the quieter side of Christmas. After all there would be no Christmas without Jesus Christ. He is the reason for the season. Have a Merry Christ-mas.
Living Word Lutheran church is a small congregation found in the city of Seward Nebraska. Seward is located in Seward County and is approximately 25 miles west of Nebraska’s capitol of Lincoln. Living Word is a member of the Lutheran Church in Mission for Christ [LCMC]
Living Word Lutheran Church is a fellowship of believers who join together to glorify God by:
- praising and worshipping the Holy Trinity
- equipping children, youth, and adults through the study of God’s Word and
- reaching out to our church, community, and world in Christ through mission.