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.

Advertisements

Principal’s Pen: Ascension matters

Jesus’ Ascension truly matters.

Other church festivals seem to overshadow Ascension. However, Jesus’ ascension is a major event in his life and work.

When Jesus ascended, he sat at his heavenly Father’s right hand, a place of honor, trust, and position. By this, God the Father verified that Christ had made the final payment for sin by the “one sacrifice [that] has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” [Hebrews 10:13-14].

18-05FedConWhen Jesus ascended, his intercessory work began. Through him, all believers have “an advocate with the Father” [1 John 2:1]. Daily, he pleads for us at his Father’s throne.

When Jesus ascended, his eternal reign began. In heaven, he reigns “with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him” (1 Peter 3:22). No one and nothing can equal him or challenge him.

Lastly, when Jesus ascended, the Church was energized and strengthened for its mission. “And God placed all things under [Jesus’] feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way” [Ephesians 1:22- 23]. As the Church’s head, all things are done through Christ.

Years ago, Ascension was a highly regarded festival. For that matter, it still is.

Jesus’ Ascension truly matters!

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

Principal’s Pen: Are you sure?

Do we know — for sure?

Job may well be one of the oldest Bible books. It raises an age-old question:
Do we know — for sure?

Throughout Job, he made pointed statements. “But a man dies and is laid low; he breathes his last and is no more.” [Job 14:10]. He also asked tough questions. “If a man die, shall he live again?” [Job 14:14].

redeemer_16912cHis thoughts came from a heart that suffered great personal loss. Yet, by faith, he also exclaimed, “I know that my redeemer lives” [Job 19:25]. Job knew this — for sure. With these words, he stood on solid ground. In spite of his troubles, the Holy Spirit led him to speak comfort and assurance to all believers.

Job begins, “I know.” He pointed with certainty to a central truth of Scripture: his “redeemer lives.” Christ is true God. He controls everything. He lives and has conquered death. Paul echoed the same thought: Christ “was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ [is] our Lord” [Romans 1:4].

Like Job, we, too, may know and believe that our Redeemer lives in spite of our troubles and doubts. This is God’s plan for us. This is why the Bible was written. The Apostle John agrees. “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” [1 John 5:13].

Through God’s Word, we know — for sure!

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

Principal’s Pen: Victory. It began in hell.

He descended into hell. We recite these words in the Apostles Creed. But, what do they mean? When did Christ descend into hell? Why did he do it? What does it mean for us?

Three days after Christ “was crucified, died and was buried,” he “rose again from the dead” (The Apostles’ Creed). Scripture provides little commentary about Jesus’ being between his burial and resurrection. His lifeless body lay in the grave. However, he earlier prophesied that he would use his “authority to take [his life] up again” (John 10:18). Doing this, he “rose again from the dead” and “he descended into hell.”

it is finishedIt is perhaps Peter who provides the most information on Christ’s descent. He writes, “After being made alive, [Christ] went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits – to those who were disobedient long ago” (1 Peter 3:19-20). Jesus clearly testified to those in hell who earlier heard his message and rejected it. He preached judgment, not repentance and forgiveness. There was no second opportunity. Christ showed himself alive to those lost souls so they would know and understand that their judgment was just and right.

Christ’s descent into hell has great meaning for us. It begins his exaltation. He defeated sin, death, and Satan. His descent into hell is a victory parade in front of those who denied him. This act helps us know and trust that our Victor-Savior has “authority to take [his life] up again” and will one day raise our glorified bodies to live with him forever in heaven.

He descended into hell.” These words express an important truth of the Christian faith. They point to the risen Christ.

God bless your victorious Easter celebration!
Christ has died! Christ is risen! Christ will come again! (CW 406)

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

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

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