Principal’s Pen: God uses government

pray74This month, we celebrate the births of two acclaimed presidents: Washington and Lincoln. As such, we should briefly consider the necessity and blessing of government, and how God uses it to advance his plan.

Throughout history, government has not always been highly respected. The Church father Augustine stated, “Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies?” The philosopher Thomas Paine concurred. “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil.” Even Thomas Jefferson said, “The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so [it] will not become a legalized version of the first.” Today, many echo similar sentiments, perhaps more colorfully.

In light of such attitudes about government, what should Christians think?
First, we know that God establishes all governments—even corrupt ones. “No authority exists except by God” [Romans 13:1]. As such, we owe our government respect and allegiance because “the one who rebels against the authority is opposing God’s institution” [v. 2].

At the same time, government can be a blessing. It provides peace and stability to society. It is God’s “agent…to bring punishment on the wrongdoer” and his “servant for our benefit” [v. 4] to ensure that freedoms—including worship—are maintained.
It is sad that today Church and state are no longer on the same field as they once were. Long ago, both understood that they answered to God. However, society has separated them, and today government acts as if it were answerable to no one—not even God!
Christians must remember that God establishes government. He causes nations and leaders to rise for his purpose, and then he allows them to fall.

In spite of the boasts of rulers and the sometimes reckless actions of government, take comfort that “the One enthroned in heaven laughs” [Psalm 2:4]. He controls everything and “works for the good of those who love him” [Romans 8:28].

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

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Principal’s Pen: Never, never, never alone

The New Year often brings a mixed bag of emotions and memories.

For some, 2017 was their best year ever. They look forward to an even greater 2018.

Others experienced one struggle after another last year. For them, 2018 brings hope that things will improve.

Whether you have just had the greatest year of your life or you are incredibly glad to see 2017 pass, the truth remains: you are not alone — ever! Our God is “with us” and he is “for us.”

alphaomega_1772cChristmas is the season of God with us. Our Savior — Immanuel — is literally “God with us.” Though this world continually changes, God does not. He comforts us in his Word by proclaiming, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (NIV 11, Revelation 22:12). He has always been with us, is always with us, and will always be with us.

Not only is our God with us at all times, but he is for us. Christ is our brother who redeemed us from sin’s curse. His holy life, innocent suffering and death, and glorious resurrection confirm Paul’s assertion, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (NIV 11, Romans 8:31).

Begin 2018 trusting that God knows what is best. After all, he is with you and he is for you. “[Christ] said to me, ‘Look, I am making everything new!’ He also said, ‘Write, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” (EHV, Revelation 21:5).

God bless your New Year!

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

Principal’s Pen: I’ve had it.

By now, you may have had it!

Soon after school begins, Christmas decorations appear in stores. Then, sales start. Finally, it —Christmas music with messages of family, good times, presents, and Santa—commences. Although many love the season, just as many find it overwhelming or depressing.

christmas_12425CIn a world that does not know the true reason for Christmas, Christians must continually remind themselves, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

By nature, we are not upright and godly. Sin so corrupts our nature that the psalmist’s words fit everyone perfectly: “All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one” (14:3). In short, we have no hope.

In his grace and mercy, God sent One to pay sin’s price. His Son became human, lived spotlessly, died innocently, and rose victoriously to pay humankind’s debt for sin. No human effort, man-made strategy, or mortal plan could accomplish our salvation. It is full and free divine grace to all who hold the Savior by faith.

The angel’s proclamation that first Christmas was “music” to the shepherds’ ears. Imagine their joy when the angels announced, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Their joy compelled them to find him. It led them to “[glorify and praise] God for all the things they had heard and seen” (Luke 2:20). The shepherd’s jubilation may well be called the world’s first Christmas “song.”

Don’t despair. Soon, the Christmas decorations will be stored. The unsold merchandise will disappear. The sappy, commercialized music will end.

But, our joy and hope in the Savior will not. It lives because Jesus truly is “the Messiah, the Lord.” God bless your Christmas celebration!

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

Principal’s Pen: A model for thanksgiving

He is mentioned in only one chapter of the Bible. Even then, he is overshadowed by the Christchild.

Luke reports, “Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah” [Luke 2:25-26].

Simeon is described as “righteous and devout.” As such, he knew Scripture. He knew God’s anointed would be David’s descendent [2 Samuel 7], yet even greater than David [Psalm 110]. He knew the Chosen One would born of a virgin [Isaiah 7:14] in Bethlehem [Micah 5:2]. He knew a forerunner would precede God’s Promised One [Isaiah 40] and that the Savior himself would be a prophet like Moses [Deuteronomy 18]. He knew the Messiah would be forsaken and pierced [Psalm 22] and then rise from death [Psalm 16].

Simeon knew all this about his Savior.

nunc-dimittusImagine Simeon’s joy as he held Jesus and exclaimed, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation” [Luke 2:29-30]. His joy was complete. He offered thanks to God that the
age-old promise of a Savior was fulfilled.

Simeon’s thanksgiving to God can also be our model for thanksgiving. He waited his entire life for the fulfillment of the promise of a Savior from sin. We share that same faith—only we don’t wait and wonder when it will happen. It has! God sent his Son to be our Savior so that all believers may have joy and thanksgiving.

At Thanksgiving, we tend to focus on God’s physical blessings. That’s good because God richly blesses us. Yet, we should also include his spiritual blessings in our Thanksgiving because they will last forever.

Like Simeon, may God “dismiss [us] in peace” knowing that his greatest blessing—a Savior—is ours every day by faith.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

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

Principal’s Pen: A Christian’s greatest treasure

What is your greatest treasure? Perhaps it’s an heirloom? Maybe, it’s something you purchased, hoping its value would appreciate. Possibly, it’s a drawing or card from your child or grandchild. Everyone has a personal treasure. They treat it specially because it is important to them.

You and I have such a treasure—God’s Word. Our Savior, Jesus, uses a parable to explain its value to all believers.

The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field” (Matthew 13:44). Jesus does not discuss the ethics of whose treasure this was. Rather, he uses the man’s reaction to discovering the treasure to illustrate a truth: the gospel is a Christian’s greatest treasure. Unlike the parable where the man sold everything to buy the field, the gospel costs nothing. It is the simple proclamation of sins forgiven through Jesus. It can be shared by anyone. In fact, the least worthy vessels—sinful humans—share it daily.

God’s Word is a treasure. After all, it is God’s Word. The Holy Spirit—through Peter—emphasizes its value by saying, “There is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). It contains Jesus’ words and works, and it points to him as the only source of salvation.

God’s Word is important because it makes us “wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). The law exposes our sin and reveals our hopelessness. Then, the gospel comforts us with the good news (literally, the meaning of gospel) that Jesus is our Savior. He lived, died, and rose so that all believers may live forever in heaven with him.

luther-sealThis month, we commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation. We thank God for Luther and others who uncovered the precious Word of God. God bless our celebration. May he lead us to always value his Word as our greatest treasure!

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

P.S. Remember that we have a special occasion to worship our Savior God with thousands of like-minded Lutherans at the 500th anniversary Area Reformation service at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, WI at 4 PM on Sunday, October 29, 2017.

Principal’s Pen: What causes suffering?

Some carry heavy burdens in life. Illness, death, and family situations are among the problems that they face daily.

Why do some carry such heavy loads, yet others go through life seemingly carefree? Even the people of Jesus’ day wondered this.

As [Jesus] went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:1-3). Jesus’ disciples incorrectly assumed that one’s problems result from a singular sin.

Jn9

However, “no one knows the thoughts of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11). While we cannot definitively say that one’s burdens are due to a single sin, we know that these troubles are the effects of sin. Because all are sinners, all will face life’s problems until they die.

Knowing that we, too, face life’s burdens at times, how do we approach them? Our Savior comforts us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Jesus encourages us to turn to him through the Means of Grace and prayer, trusting that he strengthens us to endure everything we face.

At times, God may even permit problems to enter our lives for a singular reason: to strengthen our faith. “This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” When life’s burdens become heavy, we learn to lean on God for strength. He alone has the power to guide us through our troubles, and he even strengthens us through these burdens.

In this way, “the works of God [are] displayed” and he is glorified!

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

Principal’s Pen: Attitude Adjustment

“He really has an attitude!”

Attitude is often descriptive of negative or disagreeable people. “Attitude” exists for different reasons. It may be teenage rebellion. It might be passive-aggressive behavior in the workplace. It could even be someone’s despondency in life.

Regardless of cause, this type of attitude counters that of our Savior’s. Paul wrote, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” [Philippians 2:5]. (Some Bible translations use attitude for mindset.)

Christ’s attitude is perfect. He thought it nothing to be “in very nature God.” [2:6]  Yet, he set aside his godliness to be “made in human likeness” [2:7]. Then, he “humbled himself…to death…on a cross” [2:8]. Christ’s attitude is more than a goal for Christians. It should be our lifestyle! When we emulate Christ’s attitude in word, thought, and action, we do so joyfully thanking the One who gave himself as “the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and…also for the sins of the whole world” [1 John 2:2].

servant-attitudeChristians should have an attitude. First, it should be a confident attitude believing that our Savior won full and free forgiveness for us sinners. Secondly, it should be a trusting attitude knowing of Jesus’ personal love for us. Finally, it should be a responding attitude seeking ways to serve God and others in Christlike humility.

When seen this way, it’s not wrong for Christians to have an “attitude.”

Jim Grasby is principal of Lakeside Lutheran.
Reach him at 920.648.2321 x2204 or jgrasby@llhs.org