Principal’s Pen: Paying it forward

Print“Paying it forward.” It’s the practice of paying a stranger’s bill with no expectations. You may have “paid it forward” for someone—or someone may have “paid it forward” for you.

By grace, we have experienced “paying it forward” in our lives.

In his epistle to the Ephesians, Paul wrote to believers who were under fire. The times were perilous. The persecutions had begun. Nevertheless, Paul encouraged the Ephesians and believers of all times to walk with Christ and serve him in unity and love.

b12year17ecEarly in the epistle, Paul writes, “In [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7). Jesus made payment “through his blood.” These words refer to Christ’s death on the cross as sin’s complete payment. His payment releases us from the eternal penalty of sin. Furthermore, it helps us manage sin’s earthly consequences—guilt, hopelessness, and despair.

However, our freedom through Christ is not free. It cost him everything when he died to pay for our sins. What Christ did clearly illustrates grace—God’s undeserved love. By faith, we have the privilege of being God’s children with no strings attached. It is his free gift.

In a sense, Jesus “paid it forward” for our sins. Before we believed, “even when we were dead in our trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:5, ESV). The reason is humanly inexplicable: “for it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast”(Ephesians 2:8-9).

By grace, Christ “paid it forward” so that all believers may enjoy “the riches of God’s grace.

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

Principal’s Pen: Rich at Christmas

rectorc“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich”
(2 Corinthians 8:9).

By nature, humans are not giving. Often, we keep for ourselves what we have. The first words of many children—“no” and “mine”—easily fly out especially during fits of self-centeredness.

Each year, the media reports on Christmas spending. For 2018, the average American supposedly spent $1,000 for Christmas gifts, decorations, food, and related non-gift items. Perhaps these reports amaze us—considering that we are not, by nature, giving.

At Christmas, however, we all would do well to ponder Paul’s words to the Corinthians, noting Christ’s giving nature and his reason for it.

Paul reminds us of Jesus’ grace, God’s unconditional gift. It is “unasked, unforced, unearned” (Where Shepherds Lately Knelt, stanza 4). “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” is God’s gift to all sinners.

B15year31ecPaul then illustrates grace. “That though [Christ] was rich, yet for your sake he became poor” (2 Corinthians 8:9) Christ set aside heaven’s glories to become human. Although he is true God, Jesus took “the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” [Philippians 2:7]. He experienced pain, sorrow, and temptation firsthand. Yet, through it all, “he committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth” [1 Peter 2:22].

His reason for doing this was “so that you through his poverty might become rich.” Jesus lived to save sinners. Earlier in Corinthians, Paul states how Christ bore the world’s sin on the cross “so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Unlike anyone else could, Christ humbled himself to offer forgiveness, peace, and eternal life—the most precious Christmas gifts of all.

There is nothing wrong with giving Christmas gifts. It is great to see Christmas decorations. Celebrating Christmas with family and friends can be joyful. But, for us, these simply point to the One who surrendered his riches “so that [we] through his poverty might become rich.”

God bless your Advent meditations and your joyous Christmas celebration.
May he also bless your New Year.

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

Principal’s Pen: ‘Give careful thought to your ways’

“Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: PPen talk bubbles Nov19
‘Give careful thought to your ways’ (Haggai 1:5).

At times, someone may ask us to stop and consider our actions. This was the case in Haggai’s day.

Haggai authored one of the final Old Testament books. He wrote the above words 15 years after the exiles returned from Babylon. Upon their return, Jerusalem and its Temple lay in ruins. Almost immediately, the people rebuilt the city walls and other structures. The Lord blessed their work. Within seven months, they set up the altar of burnt offering. Soon, the Temple’s foundation would be laid.

Then, the work stopped. For 15 years, nothing more happened. This is when the Lord addressed the people through Haggai. The Lord took the people to task for reversing their priorities. Instead of first rebuilding his house, they feathered their own nests by building themselves fine homes. As a result, the work on the Temple was neglected.

Twice, the Lord states, “Give careful thought to your ways” (Haggai 1:5 and 1:7). This repetition is for emphasis. The Lord wanted his people to stop and carefully consider their actions. He had a reason for insisting that the Temple be immediately completed: “That I may take pleasure in it” (1:8). He wanted his house to be built now with the finest materials as a fitting place for him.

In the phrase “that I may take pleasure in it,” the key word is pleasure. The Lord “take[s] no pleasure in the death of anyone” (Ezekiel 18:32) or even “in the death of the wicked” (Ezk. 33:11). Rather, he finds pleasure when sinners humble themselves before him. His desire is for everyone to “repent and live” (18:32). The Lord wanted his house completed with no further delay so that repentant sinners could come before him to “turn from their [evil] ways and live” (33:11).

The Lord still offers grace and mercy to repentant sinners in his house. After his law reveals our sin and hopelessness, he shares the gospel. Then, by faith, we may turn from our evil ways, trusting confidently in Christ’s forgiveness.

The Lord redirected greed and laziness to become repentance and forgiveness. He did it with six simple words: “Give careful thought to your ways,” that called a nation to repent. Eventually, it led his people to trust in his full forgiveness through Christ.

Lord, lead us to “give careful thought to your ways.”
You love us and you want us to share eternal life with you
through your Son, our Savior.

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

Principal’s Pen: “The righteous will live by faith”

PPen_Luther_SealThe righteous will live by faith.

This passage occurs in Romans and Galatians. With slight wording variations, it appears twice more in the Bible.

The first is in Habakkuk, who likely wrote his book shortly before the Babylonian invasion. The godly Habakkuk’s concern was evil. Daily, he observed violence, injustice, and wickedness in Judah. In a dialogue with the Lord, Habakkuk asked why he allowed this.

The Lord revealed that he would use the Babylonians to severely discipline Judah for its sins. Yet, he described the Babylonians as greedy and violent idolaters. This confused Habakkuk. It seemed inconsistent with the Lord’s character.

The Lord went on to reveal that someday he would also deal with the Babylonians. By contrast, he stated, “The righteous person will live by his faithfulness” [2:4].

There are three key words in this passage. The first is righteous. Bible characters—like Noah, Job, and Simeon—are labeled righteous. They are not perfect, but upright. Habbakuk used righteous to denote those who follow a standard like God’s holy law.

The second word is live, a word with multiple meanings depending on context. Hababbuk’s use denotes deliverance and living in a holy relationship with the Lord.

The final word is faithfulness. Note the preceding word: his faithfulness. This points to the Lord’s faithfulness to his promises.

In short, this passage from Habakkuk states that believers live—by faith—according to the Word of God. As such, they enjoy a special relationship with the Lord and they may fully rely on his promises.

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Habakkuk may not have immediately understood the Lord’s words, but neither have we. At times, we look about in disbelief. We want to “throw in the towel” thinking that God has lost control of this world. When this occurs, may he lead us to this passage and remind us of faithfulness. He controls history for the good of his people and guides everything to glorify his name.

Habakkuk eventually understood this and—by God’s grace—so may we.

Lord, give us eyes of faith to view your faithfulness through Jesus’ cross. You have made us “the righteous [who] live by faith.”

Jim Grasby is principal of Lakeside Lutheran.
Contact him at jgrasby@llhs.org

Principal’s Pen: Warrior=Witness


The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth. [Psalm 19:1-4]


As many reflect on summer travels, they may recall thundering waterfalls, rushing pen_8416crivers, picturesque lakes, towering mountains, and wildlife. Without realizing it, they have witnessed something far greater.

In Romans, Paul explains the “natural knowledge of God.” He states how creation clearly testifies of God’s presence and power. He writes, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen” [1:20]. Nature testifies that there is a God with power to create and regulate all things. Everyone can see this. However, few acknowledge it.

Paul continues, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became … darkened” [v. 21]. In spite of the evidence, most choose to ignore God. In short, they “become fools” [v. 22]. They seek God where he is not—in themselves and in ways they devise.

We have a formidable task. We must tell the world Scripture’s message of our God and his great love for humankind. His love is so profound that he sacrificed his only and only Son for everyone’s sin. “For God did not send his Son into the world to be its judge, but to be its [S]avior” [John 3:16 Good News].

Lakeside’s biennial theme is Witness. In chapel, devotions, and in all classes, students A17year46pcwill be encouraged to witness—encouraged to witness to one another to remain strong in the faith and encouraged to witness to those who see God’s signs in nature, yet do not know his complete message as revealed in his Word.

Indeed,
“the heavens declare the glory of God.”

Lord, give us a desire to witness so that others may know you and trust in your Son as their Savior.

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

Principal’s Pen: Time to Shine

“Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens” [Daniel 12:2-3].

Among the final words in the book of Daniel is his statement of faith in the resurrection. His words are a comfort to all who believe in the One who gave his life to give life to all.

Daniel lived in a pagan society. The Babylonians and Persians believed the physical world was inferior. The concept of a physical resurrection was foreign to them.

Among the world’s religions, there is notable disagreement on what happens after death. Christians know and believe that Christ will literally raise us from the dead. We will be physical beings, not clouds or spirits. This makes Christianity distinct.

Our world fights against Christ’s teaching of a physical resurrection. Many non-Christians believe that resurrection from the dead is either ridiculous or unneeded. Recently, one state passed a law allowing “human composition” as a means for disposing of human remains. This method considers the lifeless body to be “soil” that is placed back into the ground. On the surface, this appears harmless. However, behind it is the belief that we are “accidents,” the product of evolution. As such, many see death as nothing more than a natural end. By dying, the human body eternally returns to nature.

Genesis 3 tells us that death is the unnatural consequence of sin. However, Christians also know and believe that Christ destroyed sin and death. Some day, he will raise our bodies without sin and its effects.

There is nothing wrong with traditional ways of handling human remains after death. What matters is what we believe. Even in death, we glorify God. The ground may temporarily hold our remains. But Jesus will return to call us once more to take on flesh and rise to eternal life.

God preserve us all in the one true faith so that one day we will “shine like the brightness of the heavens.

Principal’s Pen: I don’t deserve this

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Someone—feeling that life is unfair—may say or think these words. Christians could also utter them. However, by faith, they convey a completely different meaning.

Jesus and his disciples left Judea for Galilee. Unlike their countrymen, they traveled through Samaria. Eventually, they arrived at Sychar, the location of Jacob’s well. Jesus sent his disciples to town to buy food while he waited at the well.

A Samaritan woman came to draw water. Jesus asked her for a drink. Immediately, her defenses went up. “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (John 4:9). She knew that Jews did not associate with Samaritans or even share their cups. However, Jesus would not be dissuaded. He said, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (v. 10).

water4cThis woman did not realize that the long-awaited Messiah sat before her. After further conversation, Jesus revealed, “I am he” (v. 26). This woman did not deserve this. Jesus could have avoided Samaria. He could have said nothing when she approached the well. He could have ended the conversation after her rebuttal. Yet, by grace, he revealed himself to her as well as to “many of the Samaritans from that town [who] believed in him because of the woman’s testimony” (v. 39).

Those in Sychar did not deserve this. Neither do we.

We are “enemies of God” (Hebrews 10:27) through unbelief. We have “turned from following him and [have] no regard for any of his ways” (Job 34:27). This alone is grounds for God’s rejection.

Yet, by grace, he reveals Christ to us through his Word. Scripture provides the gospel’s “living water” (John 4:10) to identify Jesus as “that Messiah called Christ … [who] will explain everything” (v. 25).

“I don’t deserve this!” No. It should be, “I don’t deserve this”—“the incomparable riches of [God’s] grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:7).

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