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

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Principal’s Pen: Bad news, good news

It’s going to get worse before it gets better.

John authored Revelation while exiled on Patmos. It was a dangerous time for Christians. Most faced persecution. Many were imprisoned. Some were being tortured and killed.

John’s Spirit-inspired book accurately depicted his world. The Christian Church was under attack. It appeared that evil would soon gain the upper hand.

Repeatedly, John urged the saints to be faithful to God during this tribulation.

But, it would get worse before it got better. He cautioned, “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution” [Revelation 2:10a]. But, immediately, he exhorted, “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown” [v.10b]. There was hope. Even if death was imminent, the Lord promised the “victor’s crown” to all who persevered.

The Lord of the Church would not desert the faithful. Eventually, the institutions seeking to destroy Christianity would themselves end. No longer would the saints be persecuted, and the Church would actually become society’s foundation.

Today, Christianity is again under attack. But, unlike John’s time, the attack is not necessarily physical. Today’s attack seeks to undermine the Church through fear and apathy. We feel alone and isolated because Scripture’s views are no longer valued by society. At times, we are lulled into complacency thinking that attacks on Christians are distant, sporadic, and without effect.

In reality, those attacks are drawing closer and intensifying. Christians are identified in politics, the media, and entertainment as intolerant hatemongers. Some view us as the troublers of society for defending Scripture’s truths on life, marriage, and sexuality.

We would all do well to read John’s words and remind ourselves that we, too, live in a perilous age. At the same time, we can find comfort in God’s Word. Even if persecution and death threaten us, God promises, “I will give you life as your victor’s crown.”

May God give us a strong faith to clings to him for he promises us “the victor’s crown.”

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

Principal’s Pen: Who do you say I am?

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“Who do people say I am?” (Mark 8:27)

Perception and image are important. When people think well of someone or something, they want to belong. When perception or image is negative, people distance themselves.

One day, as Jesus and his disciples traveled through Galilee, he asked, “Who do people say I am?” His disciples repeated the common theories of the day: he was a reincarnation of Moses or Elijah, or perhaps another prophet.

Our Savior then repeated the question, changing one word to aim it at his audience: “Who do you say I am?” (Mark 8:29a). The Master Teacher did this for the sake of his hearers. To this, Peter boldly proclaimed, “You are the Messiah” that is, the Anointed One, the Deliverer (Mark 8:29b).

Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). He is to be revered and trusted. He is also to be the focus of our lives and behavior.

Yet, we don’t always live for Jesus. Our sinful nature overcomes our good intentions. We say and do things that defame Jesus and his Church. The public comes away thinking that Christianity is shallow and powerless to effect change.

We need to understand that our “friendship with the world”—evidenced by sinful actions— “means enmity against God” (James 4:4). When we publicly contradict God’s command to love him and others as ourselves, we “preach a sermon.” We tell others that we may say and do what we want since we are above God and his Word.

At these times, God lead us to see the damage we do. May he confront us with the law to realize our sin and turn from it. After this, may he assure us through the gospel that we are forgiven because Christ fully paid sin’s price.

Who do you say I am?” By God’s grace, may you and I confess that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of the living God.

God, give us strong spirits of faith to live for and serve you.

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

Principal’s Pen: One for All

Principal's Message“Occasionally, people “prophesy.” Whether commenting on an event or a person, sometimes their words come true.

Scripture contains many prophecies. Perhaps none has more irony than Caiaphas’ prophecy. After Jesus raised Lazarus, John writes, “Many of the Jews who … had seen what Jesus did, believed in him” (John 11:45). News of Christ’s miracle spread quickly. To those who saw it, seeing was believing.

But some reported what they saw to the Pharisees who, with the chief priests, gathered the Sanhedrin. The topic was what to do about Jesus.

Caiaphas, the High Priest, spoke. Although he may well have intended his words only for that situation, they were prophetic. He said, “You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish” (John 11:50). Caiaphas and others feared that if the people believed in Jesus, the Romans might invade and take away their status, power, and freedom. So, he proposed that one be sacrificed for many.

Think carefully about those words. Within them is the prophecy of Jesus’ crucifixion. Our Savior—the “one man”—would “die for the people.” Jesus’ death is the fulfillment of prophecies by Moses, David, Isaiah, Zechariah, and even Caiaphas.

We don’t know if Caiaphas ever reflected on his words. But they clearly point to Jesus’ cross. It was for our sin that God’s Son died to restore our relationship with him. Yet, Jesus’ death was not just for a nation of people. It was for a world of sinners.

Caiaphas’ prophecy reaches even further. After three days, Christ rose giving assurance that his death fully redeemed us. By it, God gives us the sure hope of our own salvation and a desire to live thankfully to him.

a17year14ecOccasionally, human prophecies do come true.

Thank God that we have the sure prophecy of his Word. By it, we see our Savior—the world’s Savior—from sin.

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

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: 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