A Leadership Role

October 28, 2013

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask  . . . Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” . . . Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:35, 37, 43-45

I wonder what kind of earthly leaders James and John would have been if the Holy Spirit hadn’t changed their hearts. What audacity! They come before Jesus asking him to do whatever they ask. What selfishness! This was all about them. How is power and authority used and abused by people who are so audacious and self-centered? Hitler and Stalin conquered nations and in the process eventually ran their countries into the ground and their people into poverty and fear. We may demand respect as kings and queens in our own home and in the process drive our marriages into ruin and our spouses and children into fear and despair.

Jesus teaches his disciples, and us, that Christian leadership is not about authority and power, audacity and selfishness. Leadership for the followers of Jesus is all about selflessness and service. Jesus is the perfect example. Jesus had power and authority, but he always used that power and authority to serve others. For example, he used his power and authority to benefit others as he healed diseases and cast out demons.

The best example of Jesus’ leadership is his selflessness and service in saving you and me. He didn’t live for himself; his life was all about saving us from our selfish ways and the eternal punishment of hell that our selfishness deserves. He served us by living a perfect life, a perfection that covers our imperfection. He served us with his innocent death on Calvary’s cross as he received God’s wrath for our sins. Jesus leads us from the dungeons of hell into the very halls of heaven with his selfless service!

Are you a parent? Be a selfless servant in your home. Serve your spouse and your children with loving acts of service, even though they don’t always deserve it. Are you a student? Serve your teachers with attention and respect, even if they are at times boring. Are you an employer? Serve your employees with a deserving wage and a listening ear. Are you an employee? Serve your employer with honest, faithful work and respect for your boss. Are you a leader in your church? Remember that God has put you there to serve people in your congregation and outside of it.

No matter what your station or position in life, remember it’s all about service. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many,” and that includes you!

Prayer: Lord, give me a servant heart like yours. Amen.



October 27, 2013

Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost

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The Matter of Insecurity

October 21, 2013

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
      test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
      and lead me in the way everlasting. – Psalm 139:23-24

I always thought I was the only one who was insecure. But I am amazed whenever people who seem to “have their lives all together” share what they really feel like on the inside. Some people don’t feel like they are smart enough.  Others feel like their lives are out of control. Still others are uncomfortable with the way that they look. In the United States over 40 billion dollars was spent on diet plans and 1 in every 10 reported taking an anti-depressant in 2012.  At the very least, can we agree that everyone has at least moments of insecurity and anxiety?

The writer of this psalm had a different way of dealing with insecurity than trying to change the way he looked. He knew that his issues sprang from troubles on the inside, not on the outside of his body. He asked God to help him.  He asked God to test him. He used God’s law to expose the self-centered sin that was clogging his heart and asked the Lord to take it away. His prayer was answered and the Lord brought peace to his troubled heart.

How about you? What is your area of insecurity? What is it that brings on your anxiety?  Join the writer of this psalm in asking God to perform an examination on your heart. I don’t have to go very far to find my problem areas. It seems that pride, arrogance and envy always seem to float their way to the top. If I had to group the majority of my sins into one category I could label them, “selfishness”. I am consumed with myself which ultimately leaves me empty, alone and anxious. Does that sound familiar?

God’s path that leads to healing and forgiveness always passes by the cross of Jesus. He paid for our selfish lives with his selfless life given to remove the sins of all people, including you! Trusting in him, the focus of our lives changes from a fixation on ourselves to a genuine concern for God, his Word and other people. This focus on God and his promises brings us peace.

All people, even Christians, can struggle with insecurity and anxiety, but we don’t need to struggle alone. The Lord is with us every step of the way and brings comfort and encouragement to troubled hearts and lives.

Prayer: Dear Lord, please send your Holy Spirit to test my heart. Help me to be honest with myself about the areas where I have fallen short. Replace my anxiety with trust in Jesus and his certain promises. Amen.

Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost

October 20, 2013

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Mathilde M. Ohse, 1922-2013

October 19, 2013

The Memorial Service Bulletin

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A Broken and Contrite Heart

October 14, 2013

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. – Psalm 51:17

Do you like broken stuff? You’re late for an appointment a long distance away. Your car dies. You’re far from home with a broken car. How do you feel about your broken car? A TV with a shattered screen sits in your living room. Your computer refuses to power on. Broken is often very frustrating. Normally, we don’t like broken stuff at all.

Do you like being broken? I don’t mean the broken down feeling from a severe injury or prolonged sickness. I don’t even mean that crushed feeling from a failed relationship or death of a loved one. Do you like feeling broken when it comes to spiritual matters?

Why would a person feel spiritually broken? We are broken spiritually when we realize the truth.  We are incapable of doing all the good stuff God wants us to do, and we do the bad stuff he tells us to always avoid. This is just the tip of the iceberg – we aren’t just broken on the outside, but to our core. Broken means we realize what horrible spiritual shape we’re in, and that we can’t fix ourselves.

While we might hate being broken, God doesn’t hate it. In fact, in Psalm 51, God says: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” God wants us to realize just how broken we are and that we can’t fix ourselves. Turn to God with a broken and sorrowful heart. Confess that you need his grace and forgiveness.

God takes what is broken and heals it. He promises that by Jesus’ wounds – by his suffering and death in our place – we are healed. God promises that when we confess our sins to him, he forgives us.

We’re broken far worse than a dead car or smashed TV. Confess your brokenness, your sin, to God. You may hate your brokenness, but he will not. God will forgive you and heal you.

Prayer: Holy and merciful God, I confess that I am broken. My sins show that I am spiritually broken all the way to my heart and spirit. For the sake of Jesus, forgive and heal me. Bind me up in your love and send me out to live to your glory and for the benefit of others. Amen.

Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost

October 13, 2013

Guest Speaker: Steve Cohen, founder, The Apple of His Eye Mission Society

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