Principal’s Pen: How to practice the Resurrection

principals-message-1   “He is not here; he has risen!” (Luke 24:6)

The message that our Savior rose and conquered death was proclaimed today in Christian churches worldwide. Christ’s resurrection is Christianity’s core. With its importance, should resurrection not be merely a noun, but actually a verb? What would it mean to “practice” the resurrection in our faith lives?

bouquet_17337cpIn his “resurrection” chapter, 1 Corinthians 15, Paul writes, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (v. 17). Some Corinthians denied the resurrection. Their culture and their upbringing before hearing of Jesus led them to reject Scripture’s clear teaching that Christ rose and that “the dead will be raised to live forever” (v. 52). So, Paul first establishes proof of Christ’s resurrection, tying it to the truth that all will someday arise. He also asserts that believers’ bodies will be glorified at the resurrection. This chapter is the capstone of Christ’s victory over death and the grave.

In these verses, Paul sets forth a believer’s action plan to daily “practice” the truth of Christ’s resurrection:

  • Believed: (v. 2 and 11): The Holy Spirit leads believers to trust God’s Word—including his promise of the resurrection;
  • Stop sinning” (v. 34): As Paul held the law before those Corinthians who denied the resurrection, he extols us to turn from our sin and stop doubting God’s promises;
  • Changed” (v. 52): Our resurrected bodies will change from perishable to imperishable. By God’s grace, our earthly lives will also change from sinful self-centeredness to grace-filled lives of love for God and others; and
  • Give thanks”(v. 57): In response to “the unlimited riches that Christ gives” (Ephesians 3:8), we can daily “remain strong in the faith … [and] give [ourselves] completely to the work of the Lord” [1 Cor. 15:58].

Viewing Christ’s resurrection this way leads us—by faith—to daily put it into practice.

Lord, strengthen our faith and guide us to live in the sure hope of our resurrection in Christ. Amen.

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: 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: 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: Don’t miss an opportunity

principals-message-1There are many stories of missed opportunity.

In 2012, a man wished to invest $10,000. He researched many options and found a company whose story interested him. It was in the relatively new and rapidly expanding field of social media.

As he waited, the company’s stock dipped to $20 a share. Knowing his limit, he instructed his broker to buy 550 shares when the price reached $18. As the price further declined, he assumed that his broker made the purchase. He didn’t check.

However, the lowest price the stock reached was $18.06. For $.06 per share, his order was never executed and this investor missed out on a big opportunity—Facebook. His $10,000 investment in 2012 would be worth $90,000 today!

There are many stories of missed opportunity.

Early on the first morning of the week, the women went to Jesus’ tomb. They expected to prepare his body for burial. But, they did not find a lifeless body. They found two “men” in brilliant clothing. Even before they spoke, one man declared, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? [Jesus] is not here; he has risen!” [Luke 24:5-6].

The women “hurried away from the tomb … and ran to tell his disciples” [Matthew 28:8]. They didn’t want to miss the opportunity to share the message of the Savior’s resurrection.

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For many, Easter is a missed opportunity. To them, it’s a spectator event and they miss the opportunity to make its joy their own. Moreover, they miss the opportunity to share God’s message of life and hope through Jesus.

This year, may God guide every believer to seize the opportunity and be like the women who joyfully received the news of Jesus’ resurrection. Furthermore, may he lead us to share our joy so that others may hear and also believe, “[Jesus] is not here; he has risen!

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: Dear Problem…

“Dear God – my problem is so great that…” You fill in the rest.

The prophet Elijah faced such a problem. After witnessing the Lord’s power on Mount Carmel, and as the people’s cry – “The Lord – he is God!” (1 Kings 18:39) – rung in his ears, he may have assumed that his problems with idolatry had ended.

Then came Jezebel’s words: “May the gods deal with me…if…I do not make your life like that of one of [my dead prophets]” (19:2). Elijah fled. To him, his problem was bigger than God. He saw escape as the only solution.

It is here that the Lord provided Elijah with a valuable lesson. God sent powerful displays – wind, earthquake, and fire. But he was not in them.

Finally, Elijah heard a whisper: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (19:13). God was in that whisper. After Elijah explained himself, the Lord explained his plan. Elijah still had work to do. He would anoint two kings and he would also anoint his successor. Energized by the word of the Lord, Elijah carried out the plan. He learned that even his greatest problem was under the Lord’s control.

1cr1013cWe have been like Elijah many times. When we face seemingly impossible situations, we often despair and search for solutions anywhere else but with God.

At times like these, we need the Lord’s assurance. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you…. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned” (Isaiah 43:2). And again, “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

God repeatedly assures us that he manages even our greatest problems.

Instead of praying, “Dear God – my problem is so great that…,” we may confidently pray, “Dear problem – my God is so great that….” You fill in the rest!

Jim 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

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.
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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.