Day 7-Remember (Devotions for my high school students)

photo-1520013573795-38516d2661e4Deuteronomy 6:12  be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

So we are now entering your second full week of school. Sorry I can’t be here this morning, I’m out of town. I hope you had a good breakfast and that you are ready to start your day. Wait, are you ready? Did you remember your lunch? Your backpack? Your instrument? Do you have the right stuff for PE? Do you have what you need for practice after school? Do you have a ride? 

I bring these up not to make you worry, but to help you see, even at your age, just how many different things you need to remember to have a successful day of school. That doesn’t even get into combing your hair, taking a shower, getting dressed. What about drinking enough water and brushing your teeth? The point is, you have hundreds of decisions to make every morning to make sure you have a great day. If you forget just one thing, let’s say brushing your teeth, your whole day could be difficult. That could make you not want to talk to your friends, you could be self-conscience in lab instead of thinking about what you are trying to learn. You could think more about bumming gum off of a friend rather than learning a new song. 

You wouldn’t be the first person to forget something important. The Israelites (remember these are the Jews were called when they were lead by Moses around 1500) were getting ready to enter a new land and God wanted them to remember something important. He said, 12 be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. Deuteronomy 6:12. What he was saying is that in all the bustle of the move, don’t forget God.  Now, you might not be moving, but there are plenty of things going on in your life.  Plenty of things that can keep you from remembering Jesus.  God is telling you, just like he told the Israelites, don’t forget your Savior. 

Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank you for your mercy and all you have done for us. It is so easy in our busy lives to forget you, or even push you to the back burner. Help us today to keep you present in our mind as we face the joys and challenges of today. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Day 4 “Original” (Devotions for my high school students).

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Dick Proenneke “Alone in Alaska” on PBS

Genesis 1:25  God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.”

What does it take to be original?  What does it take to make your own stuff?  I mean really, can you imagine producing all your own stuff? I once watched a show about a guy who was in Alaska living off the land.  He made his own tools, chopped down his own trees, grew his own vegetables and hunted with weapons he made. In one episode he catches a fish with a hook and line he made and then he made a door with working hinges out of wood. Seriously.  I was exhausted just watching this guy.  But it you think about it, he didn’t really make all his own stuff. He didn’t design the trees or the salmon. He didn’t actually create vegetables. He just took something that was already there and used it for his own purposes. 

To me, one of the most amazing things about our God is his creativity.  Literally out of nothing, he created everything beautiful that you know and see. He created blueberries and salmon and beef and sunsets and mountains. Everything.  I guess you could say that the only thing original with humans is sin. Sin that separates us from God.  I am not so proud of that, but even in our whoas we see God’s glory. Who but God could come up with such an original plan to save us? He sent a son, born of a woman, who was true God and true man in one person. That one man, lives perfectly in our place, then dies in our place, then rises from the dead to prove that we are truly forgiven. All that to save us for  the single truly original thing we came up with.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, I am not sure I can even get my brain around what it would take to truly original.  Help us today to really think about that idea, and what it takes to be the one and only creator of the world and the one and only Savior from our sins. Amen.

Day 2-It is Good to Work (Devotions for my high school kids)

green-chameleon-21532-unsplash.jpgGenesis 2:15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

I pray you had a great first day of school.  I don’t know how you feel about this, but I always thought the first day of school was one of the best.  You get to see your friends. You get to wear new outfits or shoes. There is absolutely no pressure to have homework done. Maybe times have changed, but back in my day (Did I just seriously use that phrase?), even class was easy.  You get seating assignments, hear expectations and scan ahead while your teacher reads a boring syllabus to see if any big assignments are required at the end of the year. In a word, the first day of school was “cake.”

Day two? Now that’s a different story.  Day two is when you actually have to work. You have to take notes. You have to pay attention. You have to listen with intentionality. No more ice breaker games, or going around in a circle to remember everyone’s spirit animal. No more “What was best thing you did this summer” time-filler stories until the bell rings. Nope, just school. Just work.

I don’t know if you noticed, but tucked in Moses’ inspired account of creation, we have this verse in Genesis chapter 2. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”  Now this may not seem like a big of a deal, but if you remember, the Garden of Eden was a perfect place and at this time, (before Genesis 3 and the fall into sin) there was no shame or guilt or anything bad.  In other words, even in paradise, Adam had a job to do.  I am guessing that if you think about it, it is not such a big surprise.  I would also guess that some of your most rewarding days in school came after working through a tough problem, completing a project that you never thought possible, or simply hearing the approval of a teacher who recognizes your work. So, as you get ready for second day of school, my encouragement is pretty simple: Enjoy the hard work, because in hard work you will find joy.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we can’t imagine what it would take to create billions of unique human beings. You truly are awesome. Also, thank you for giving us challenges and work in which we can find joy. Of course, school can be hard, but we know that you are there with us. We also know that because Christ worked out our salvation on the cross and we don’t have to work to pay for our own sins, we have a freedom to serve you in all we do, especially our work. Give us today the energy do our best and the satisfaction of experiences a job well done. Amen.

Day 1 In the Beginning-(Devotions for my High School Kids)

inthebeginningGenesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and void.

Today is the first day of school. That is super-awesome and of course, super-scary.  What will this year bring? Will it be a good year or a bad year. Will this be the year you ace your exams or the year you experience failure?

The most famous of all beginnings was the beginning our planet. There was God, arranging things just how they should be. But if you listen closely, you probably noticed that the earth was not quite right, it was not finished. The verse said, “Now the earth was formless and void.”  That means literally it was Tovoo va vohoo. It was empty, it wasn’t put together just yet.  So what did God do? He did the the thing that only he can do, he started to create something beautiful out of the nothingness. 

In a way, that is how you start this year. Sure, you have friends and classes and schedules. But this year is, in a sense, empty. Today, you start a brand new year. You can do just about anything you want with it. You can decide to slack off, dork around, skip workouts or even punt assignments. You can choose to make this the year that you try alcohol. This can be the year you smoke pot or even gossip about your friends OR you can make something beautiful. You can build something worthwhile.  

No doubt, to make something great takes work. You will be tired, you may, at times, feel alone, you may even feel overwhelmed as assignments deadlines hit the same day you have sports. But know this, that same God who fashioned the planet together with the power of his Word, the same God who took something empty and dark and made it something extraordinarily beautiful, is the same God who took the darkness of your sin, and made it pure and holy though his Son—yes, that God is the one who stands by you, who loves you and gives you the power to make this year beautiful. 

Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank you for making our planet, our bodies and our minds. We pray that this is year is something beautiful. We know it will take work, but we also know the work you put in through Jesus to give us this opportunity to serve you. We ask that we have a chance to grow this year in our minds, with our friends and even physically as we compete.  Finally, when we do feel overwhelmed, help us to focus on you, the creator of all things beautiful.  Amen. 

 

Rebirth, Renewal, New Life

Getting under contract is super-exciting and super-scary at the same time.  On the one hand, after 5+ years of searching (and setting up for worship more than 300x), is awesome to find a location that we love.  And there is good reason to love it.   Here are a couple of highlights:
  • The location is great. It is right off of one of the main streets in our historic downtown.
    • One block north is Festival Park (undergoing a $6,900,000 renovation as you read this!
    • It is next to the public library!
    • It is only 2 blocks from the new $40,000,000 River Walk project.
  • It is where people like to go.
  • There are over 200 public parking places right around it (public lot to the north, library and street parking). This means we means we don’t have to maintain a full-sized parking lot (that saves us roughly $200,000 over the next 20 years!)
  • We can “build to the edges” of the lot. The lot is less than one acre, however, we could (in the future) more than double the size of the existing facility (current building is 8500 sq/ft.
  • It has existing infrastructure we can work with.  The lot has a totally open 8500 sq/ft building.  It is pretty basic, but the taller end has over 20 ft ceilings.  This can possibly save us hundreds of thousands of dollars on the final project.
  • We can move forward quickly-there are a lot of moving parts to make this happen, but it is very conceivable that we could be worshipping in our new location in less than a year

That all said, the former auto repair garage is, well, ugly.  To say that it will need some work is an understatement. You are going to have to use your imagination (like imagine that it is not mustard yellow).  We know we have to change the outside and the inside to make things work for worship, classrooms and a gathering space.  Is it worth the trouble and expense?

To be honest, I kind of like the idea of renewing a tired, old building.  As a believer, I can’t think of a better metaphor for the work that will be happening inside. Not the building of walls, but the building of souls.  We come to God’s house spiritually tired, and spiritually ugly. Yet, the Holy Spirit renews us through the simple message of the Gospel.  God thought you were worth fixing, worth forgiving.  God thought you were worth the expense. How beautiful that the Bible calls the life-giving work of the Holy Spirit renewal, new life and rebirth because that is just what we needed.

Can you help? There are a number of ways that you can help our mission.

  • You can donate directly to our building fund at www.eternalrock.org/give
  • You can pray that God removes all roadblocks and, if it is his will, we will be worshiping in our place.
  • You can reach out to WELS Kingdom workers (Builders for Christ) to see if you can help with Mission building projects in Castle Rock or around the country.

CEF Loan Application 2 Phelps looking North

How do I study the Bible?

bible

This is a great question. There are a ton of resources for studying God’s Word. However, I think that might be the biggest problem. If there was only book to read, I think we would be in pretty good shape. Get book-read book. However, there are literally hundreds of Bible translations, not to mention the thousands of devotional books.

Where to start? I see four possible ideas:

  1. Open your Bible and read a little each day.  I know, I know, some of you are driven people, so you like to try to knock off the whole thing. We are in this for the long game…take a breath and take in a little of God’s Word each day.
  2. Subscribe to a few “quick hit” type email devotions.  I like the videos at www.YourTimeofGrace.org  or the simple devotions from www.Timeofgrace.org both sites make it super-easy to subscribe to the regular emails.
  3. Jot down thoughts, prayers ideas or questions you may have so you can remember them or ask questions/investigate later on.
  4. Pray before or after your regular devotion time.  Regular is important. For me, I try not to have my first sip of coffee before I read some in my Bible.

Hope this helps, if you are looking for resources, please reach out,

pastor

What does a pastor do?

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If you are reading this, you are probably part of our church family at Eternal Rock.  Welcome!  That is a big deal and it is big deal to me that I get to be your pastor.   Technically, “pastor” is just and old English word for shepherd.  The idea is that just like a regular shepherd cares for, encourages, looks after and on occasion admonishes, sheep, so I am called, by you, to care for, encourage, look after and (sometimes admonish) in order to take care of your spiritual needs.  Let me give a couple of examples:

You are in the hospital and you are sick, I can stop by to encourage you with God’s promises in Christ.

You have a baby, I usually stop by to check in and help you get started with the baptism process.

You are facing a difficult decision, I can meet and talk about what are the are the Biblical principals that are pertinent to your decision. For example, you parents are near the end of their life or you are facing a new job.

You are looking to be growing in your faith (always a good thing!) God does this through the study of his Word. How do I help? Not only do I focus on God’s Word for us to grow together on Sunday, but I am more than happy to point in the right direction or even order some great biblical resources.

Be a confidential ear to listen to a personal confession that is weighing you down.

Offer pre-marriage or post-marriage counseling.

Admonishment?  I am guessing this may have made you bristle just a little. Don’t worry, it makes a bit uncomfortable writing it.  This is one of the harder parts of my job because I know my own sinfulness and shortcomings.  However, sin is a dangerous thing. Even a little sin can infect the whole person.  Also, you never know what sin may take someone’s heart from God.  By discipline or admonishment, I simply mean accountability.  The Bible encourages us to regularly confess our sins and trust in Jesus for forgiveness, it also encourages us to talk to people we care about who are wrapped up in sin.  As such, one of my responsibilities as a pastor to “spiritually admonish” members who are in habitual sin.

Partner with you when you have kids to raise them up in the Lord.

Help answer any questions you may have about the Bible.  Really, text, call or email me anytime.

This, of course, is just a short list, but hopefully you have some idea how I can be helpful.

In Him,

pastor