Principal’s Pen: Dear Problem…

“Dear God – my problem is so great that…” You fill in the rest.

The prophet Elijah faced such a problem. After witnessing the Lord’s power on Mount Carmel, and as the people’s cry – “The Lord – he is God!” (1 Kings 18:39) – rung in his ears, he may have assumed that his problems with idolatry had ended.

Then came Jezebel’s words: “May the gods deal with me…if…I do not make your life like that of one of [my dead prophets]” (19:2). Elijah fled. To him, his problem was bigger than God. He saw escape as the only solution.

It is here that the Lord provided Elijah with a valuable lesson. God sent powerful displays – wind, earthquake, and fire. But he was not in them.

Finally, Elijah heard a whisper: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (19:13). God was in that whisper. After Elijah explained himself, the Lord explained his plan. Elijah still had work to do. He would anoint two kings and he would also anoint his successor. Energized by the word of the Lord, Elijah carried out the plan. He learned that even his greatest problem was under the Lord’s control.

1cr1013cWe have been like Elijah many times. When we face seemingly impossible situations, we often despair and search for solutions anywhere else but with God.

At times like these, we need the Lord’s assurance. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you…. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned” (Isaiah 43:2). And again, “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

God repeatedly assures us that he manages even our greatest problems.

Instead of praying, “Dear God – my problem is so great that…,” we may confidently pray, “Dear problem – my God is so great that….” You fill in the rest!

Jim Grasby is principal of Lakeside Lutheran.
Reach him at 920.648.2321 or jgrasby@llhs.org

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Principal’s Pen: Riches to rags

From rags to riches is a common theme in literature, pop culture, and music. In real life, losers sometimes become champions. It’s appealing. After all, who wouldn’t want to go from failure to success, from poverty to wealth?

For Christians, the themes of Advent and Christmas are the opposite: from riches to rags. John’s gospel begins, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Jesus is the living Word of God. He existed with his Father and the Holy Spirit from eternity. He was the active Word at Creation. He was the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament. Old Testament prophesied him as the Messiah. Indeed, Christ had it all as Lord of heaven and earth.

oi7a5258.jpgBut, sin entered the world through humankind. The hope of living in holiness disappeared. Humans would know only misery, guilt, and death.

Here we witness God’s boundless love. Christ did the unthinkable. He surrendered heaven’s glories, “became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). He became what he was not so that we could become what we are not. Christ who is “in very nature God…made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant…[suffering] even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6-8).

We will never fully understand Christ’s actions this side of eternity. Yet, he set aside heavenly glory—his “riches”— and took up humanity—our “rags”—as prophesied. His boundless love and undeserved grace are the greatest gifts ever!

From rags to riches. It’s a great story. Everyone loves cheering for an underdog.
Yet, Christ’s riches to rags story is far greater. He laid aside heaven’s riches for us. Now, as our risen and victorious Savior, he reigns again in glory.

From all of us at Lakeside: God bless your celebration of his love through Christ. May he also bless you with a joyous New Year.

Jim Grasby is principal of Lakeside Lutheran. Reach him at 920.648.2321 or jgrasby@llhs.org

 

Principal’s Pen: Why always thankful?

frame_17970cEveryone has days on which everything seemingly goes wrong. Despite such days, you may always thank God.

Consider that…

  • You have life. God specially designed the time and location in which you live. He has specific plans for you to come to faith, to serve him and others, and to share “the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15). This is life’s true meaning.
  • You are never alone. In an impersonal, uncaring world, God is your closest friend, supporter and confidante. David declares, “You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways” (Psalm 139:2-3).
  • You can rejoice in tribulation. No one—not even believers—escapes suffering. Sin affects us all. Yet, James tells you, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2). Others see problems as burdens. You may view them as God’s training for future glory.
  • God loves you incredibly. In spite of your sin, he displayed the world’s greatest act of love by giving his Son to be your Savior. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
  • Your future is certain. Through Christ, heaven is yours. No one can take it. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

With all this in mind, you can give thanks even on your worst days.

God bless your Thanksgiving.

Jim Grasby is principal of Lakeside Lutheran High.
Reach him at 920.648.2321 or grasby@llhs.org

Principal’s Pen: Oh so relevant

Some say, “Christianity is irrelevant!”

They believe that the Church’s primary mission is to solve humankind’s ills. So, when it does not address and resolve hunger, disease, war, and other earthly problems, they label Christianity as “irrelevant.”

Sin is the root of life’s problems. Evil forces—including our flesh—continually foster sin. James writes, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” (James 4:1). Moses directly states that the “inclination of the thoughts of the human heart [is] only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5). We are naturally selfish. Our interests lie within. We place ourselves first thinking we are always correct. After all, it’s easy to point out life’s problems until we realize that we are the cause.

Some assume that Christianity will solve every earthly trouble. They think that God should destroy sin at their whim. When he doesn’t, they declare that he is uncaring, unknowing, and irrelevant.

We know that God does great things. He fed 5,000. He brought two million Israelites safely through the Red Sea. He raised Lazarus. He saves you, me, and all believers. Still, he did (and does) these things in his own way at his own time to glorify his name.

heart_1705cThroughout Scripture, God instructs us to wait patiently. “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14). “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Eccl. 3:1). “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand” (John 13:7).

God has a plan for everything, including life’s problems. His solutions are timely and relevant. After all, they “transcend all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

Really, Christianity is relevant!

Jim Grasby is principal of Lakeside Lutheran High.
Reach him at 920.648.2321 or jgrasby@llhs.org

Principal’s Pen: Living Prayers

Nearly everyone knows the Lord’s Prayer. It is the model on what to pray.

However, in the verses preceding the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches us how to pray.

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:7-8).

Our Savior makes two points. First, prayer does not have to be lengthy and ornate. The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 is just 53 words in four sentences. Not only is it simple and to-the-point, but it comes directly from Jesus.

pray2Secondly, Jesus teaches that prayer is not an if, but a when – as in, “And when you pray.” God rescued us from our sinfulness when we did everything possible to fight him. We did nothing to deserve his grace and mercy. Yet, he bought us back from sin, death, and Satan with his holy life. As his redeemed children, we now have the freedom to pray to him. God knows us and he knows our needs. He loves us and he continues to do so even when we fail. He even encourages us to address him “our Father” (Matthew 6:9).

Prayer is not dry and sterile. It is living and enriching. Through it, we speak with him “who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope
(2 Thessalonians 2:16).

God, give us lives of active and meaningful prayer.

Jim Grasby is principal of Lakeside Lutheran High. Reach him at 920.648.2321 or jgrasby@llhs.org

Principal’s Pen: Stop squirming

“Stop squirming!” How many times have you said that, witnessed someone saying it, or wished someone would say it—perhaps to a restless child or two? Some may even recall hearing those words directed at them.

sky_12239cGod also says, “Stop squirming!” The psalmist writes, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Although our circumstances may differ from those of a fidgeting child, the message has a similar intent.

Life often distracts us from our true purpose to “love the Lord [our] God with all [our] heart and with all [our] soul and with all [our] strength and with all [our] mind” (Luke 10:27). We frequently live life, not considering the consequences of our actions. When we focus only on the here-and-now, it is only a matter of time before we begin “squirming” after the world’s allurements. Soon we find ourselves completely drawn away from our true purpose, only to follow an ungodly course.

At these times, God says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” His power, his wisdom, his goodness, and his righteousness are all we need. Furthermore, he makes them ours by grace through faith in Christ. When we are tempted to focus more on the present than on the hereafter, God’s voice calls us back to the reality of making him our highest treasure.

“Stop squirming!” God gives us all we need for this life and the life to come.

Jim Grasby is principal of Lakeside Lutheran High.
Reach him at 920.648.2321 or jgrasby@llhs.org

Principal’s Pen: But first…LOVE

When items are listed, often the chief one is first. This may well be true even in Scripture.
In Galatians 5, the Holy Spirit moved Paul to enumerate the fruit of the Spirit. He writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” [v. 22-23a].
Did you notice which one led the list? Love!
Why is love important? Isn’t joy from forgiveness, forbearance to withstand provocation, or goodness to avoid temptation as important? While these—along with peace, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—are part of Christian living, love encompasses them all.
heart_11119c
Earlier in the chapter, Paul writes, “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” [v. 14]. This quote from Deuteronomy places love front-and-center in Christian living. A corollary command—“Love one another”—appears 12 times in the New Testament, three of them spoken by Jesus himself.
However, we would miss Paul’s point if we did not first recognize that love is not in our nature. By nature, we are unlovable. Sin also leads us not to love others. It is “Christ’s love [that] compels us” to love because “he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him” [2 Corinthians 5:14-15].
Love heads the fruit of the Spirit for a reason. It is Christ’s primary command as demonstrated by his boundless love for sinners.
God, give us loving hearts like our Savior’s that reflect his selfless love.

 

Jim Grasby is principal of Lakeside Lutheran High. Reach him at 920.648.2321 or jgrasby@llhs.org.