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: 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.