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

ACT results well above average

ACT Research Services of Iowa City, Iowa, recently released the ACT results for Lakeside Lutheran High School Class of 2019. 

Of the 110 members of the 2019 class, 87, or 79%, wrote the exam. Based on a 36-point scale, the composite score of these students was 24.1, which is above the state score of 20.3. This composite score keeps Lakeside Lutheran among the top 2% of over 460 high schools in the state, as reported by the Wisconsin Department of Instruction. Once again, Lakeside’s mathematics scores led the four tested areas with a composite score of 25.6.

2019_LLHS_ACT_Composite_Scores

According to ACT Inc., the test is not an aptitude or IQ test, but directly related to what students have learned in high school courses. They use the results to predict college readiness in four areas: English, Math, Reading, and Science. “It is the rigor of coursework—rather than simply the number of core courses—that has the greatest impact on ACT performance and college readiness,” the non-profit organization states. For the class of 2019, 47 percent met that benchmark in all four areas, where the state percentage was 24.

“In addition to having higher average ACT scores than many local schools, the College Board stated that our composite percentage of students who are ‘college ready’ in four core subjects is almost double the state’s composite,” says Principal James Grasby. “This means a majority of Lakeside graduates are very likely to earn a “B” or above in college-level English Composition, Algebra, Social Science and Biology courses. This is a great testimony to God’s blessing on our students’ work.”

2019_LLHS_ACT_College-ready_Percentages

The ACT is a national college admission and placement examination that is used by more colleges than any other examination. Begun in 1959, more than 1.8 million students wrote the ACT last school year, including almost 67,000 students in Wisconsin. The ACT is a standard assessment for all 11th-graders in Wisconsin public high schools.

Lakeside Lutheran High School in Lake Mills is a ministry operated by a federation of 32 Lutheran congregations who are affiliated with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod or the Evangelical Lutheran Synod. The school holds accreditation from the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI), a division of AdvancED. For more information, contact Principal James Grasby at (920) 648-2321.

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: 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

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