Greetings from the great folks at the Red Roof Church of Bulverde, Texas. I’m Lee Harder, senior pastor at St. Paul, wishing you the joy of Easter resurrection glory. Why not join us for worship this Sunday at 8:30AM or 10:45AM for celebrations of Christ in our lives. I promise, it is worship where God’s Word IS Heard from Scripture every week.
I remember as a kid growing up in Wisconsin our family gathering around the supper table every night. Sadly, a habit too few families practice in today’s busy, distracting world. Every night we would engage in discussion, debate, laughter, sharing and disagreement on a myriad of subjects. Nothing was forbidden. I was, along with my siblings, like kids everywhere in that there were times when I thought my parents just didn’t understand because they were too old. Basically, they were dumb as fenceposts. I thought that about my parents (but never said it out loud) and my kids thought that about us (and never said it out loud). My grandchildren think that about their parents. (Ah, the curse works.) Fortunately, children grow out of that stage some time between the ages of 25 and 30. My kids have many years to wait yet. (chuckle, chuckle). Justice!
I mention this because as I reflect back on those diners, I remember they were a lot of fun (most of the time) and I learned things outside my limited box of ideas. Those conversations got me to learn how to think for myself. Thinking is a good thing. I fear, we don’t have that enough today!
Our families are being torn in a dozen different directions. A sit down, family gathered together around a hot meal where people talk to one another and actually listen to one another? From what I see and hear — not happening. How is it humanly possible to engage in thought provoking, stimulating conversation when we’re shoveling chicken nuggets or some other equally disgusting substitute for real food lovingly prepared in that ancient process known as cooking. I mean, come on, I’ve seen the commercials for those companies that put together meals, the right ingredients in the right amounts with step by step instructions, to prepare for people who never learned to cook. They even teach how to cut up a potato. Really?
Then, on those rare occasions when the family might actually all have a schedule that allows them to come together, by accident, how can they communicate, you know TALK, when they all, mom and dad too, have their noses buried into their iPods, iPads and other devices with dancing thumbs pressing buttons?
People don’t communicate anymore. Oh, we talk AT one another, but we don’t listen to one another. We seldom reason or think. Sure, we have an opinion, but we refuse to open ourselves to the possibility that someone else’s opinion is as viable as our own and just might be sounder, make more sense and be more right than our own. Too many have a closed mind. It’s my way or I’ll shut you out, shout you down, or kick you out.
We see it in politics. We see it in religion. We see it in almost every facet of our lives.
Like I said before, we don’t think. Not really. We merely regurgitate the brainwashing, the indoctrination or the self-gratifying opinion that feeds the “ME” most satisfactorily. We’ve stopped learning how to think for ourselves and reason various ideas and concepts. This lack of thinking and reasoning based on all aspects of a subject is dangerous. It’s caused us to close God out from the important parts of our lives with serious consequences.
And those are my thoughts. By the way, my next vlog will be about trying to re-establish communication in the lines of thinking, especially when it comes to including God in our conversations. When there are 6th graders arrested for plotting to murder classmates and teachers in a school in Tennessee we have more than enough evidence that we need to be getting back to talking about God and with God in our lives.
Have a good week. God bless.
bBlessings to you from the disciples of the Red Roof Church in Bulverde, Texas. I’m Lee Harder, the senior pastor, coming to you at a very special time of year. Very soon, we will be celebrating the most important day of the year — Easter Sunday, the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Yet, before we can rejoice with Easter joy, we must pass through Holy Week and the Passion of our Lord.
I would personally like to invite you to join the people of St. Paul for one of our Easter celebrations at 8:00, 9:30 or 10:45 AM. However, I cannot encourage you enough to worship on Maundy Thursday and especially Good Friday. These days give depth and meaning to the celebration of Easter.
This week my blog might be a bit longer than usual, but for good reason. There are two vital thoughts I want to share. First, I’ve been watching the live broadcast of the devastating fire that has destroyed much of one of the greatest houses of worship, Notre Dame, in the world. It was with sadness that I saw the spire fall into the cathedral. The loss to Roman Catholics in Paris, the nation of France and the world is over whelming, but it is a loss shared by Christians everywhere. It is also a tremendous loss to history for all people because it can never be recovered or truly restored. Thankfully, at the time of my writing this vlog, there has been no loss of life. My prayers go out for that blessing and for the people who grieve the loss of this great church.
However, of greater concern to me, which I could not help but identify, is the repeated comment almost as a preamble to any statement made by so many during the hours I watched the fire and its reporting. Again and again, from spectators, political officials, and reporters across all network broadcasts was the common phrase, “I’m not a religious person, but…” or its equivalent. That might be a greater tragedy than the devastating loss of Notre Dame.
Where once Europe was the heart of Christianity, now less than 10% identify themselves as believers. Great houses of worship across the European continent have become museums and tourist sites. Even more frightening is the growing desire among politicians, media outlets, elitists and an uninformed general public in this country to become more like Europe, which I see as meaning “to be less Christian.” The world no longer is willing to submit to the authority of God’s rule. Big mistake! That line, “I’m not really religious” sounds as if they are ashamed of their faith as a Christian.
The loss of Notre Dame might indeed be a sign of a declining faith in people. I say that because while there are already promises to rebuild the cathedral (almost $500,000.00 at the time I write this), it will never happen. Oh, we might actually have the billions (yes, I said billions and not millions) it would take, something is still lacking. Gone are the skilled artisans that poured their God-given talents and abilities, literally their hearts and souls, into the building of Notre Dame to give glory to God. It was about doing for God, not glorifying the self, that drove them to create a work of art taking 200 years to complete. That passion isn’t there like it was 800 years ago. A building might be built, but will it’s spirit burn or will it be just another empty shell.
This is sad, but not surprising.
We have entered into Holy Week. For those who believe in Jesus Christ, we have spent 40 days of Lent preparing for the death and resurrection of our Lord. Yet, the vast majority of those who call themselves Christians would just as soon avoid Good Friday worship (it’s depressing) and its focus on the cross and just concentrate on Easter resurrection joy (seasoned with colored eggs, chocolate bunnies and baked ham).
Personally, I cannot understand or appreciate what our Lord did on Easter Sunday, rising from the dead and coming forth out of the tomb, without first standing at the foot of the cross to see His death for us. Our attention at this time must be like a coin. It has two sides, heads and tails. Our hope as Christians is also two sided. It is the death of our Lord on the cross where He defeated sin (our sin), death and the power of the devil (Satan lost). This is side one. The flip side is the empty tomb and a resurrected Savior who makes the promise of eternal life a reality for all those who believe and trust in Him.
The cross without the resurrection is just another death and we still live in our sin. A resurrection without the victory of the cross is an empty victory. When we confess, we confess the DEATH and the RESURRECTION of our Lord not one or the other.
We must stand at the foot of the cross to see for ourselves what WE did to our Lord. We nailed Him to the cross. It was our sin, our disobedience, our rejection of God’s will that placed our Lord on this instrument of torture and death. Once we have done that, Easter morning and the scene of the empty tomb shouts out “Alleluia!” “Jesus lives!” “He is risen!” and so can we. The debt of our sins, which is death, has been paid for by our Lord Jesus in His death for us. His resurrection is the promise of our own when we walk with Him by faith.
As a pastor, I find it shocking to see so many believers absent from worship on the second most important day of the year, Good Friday. Don’t we understand, if there is no cross, there is no resurrection. As painful as it is, I will stand will John and Mary, the mother of our Lord, Mary Magdalene and those others who had the courage to witness the full extend of God’s love for us, His children, by dying so we might have life.
Don’t be one of the Christmas/Easter Christians who can’t bring themselves to look beyond the agony of Jesus’ death with their own eyes and see the victory of the cross and the price that was paid for our sin. Then our tears of sorrow on Good Friday can become shouts of joy and thanksgiving for Easter’s glory on Sunday. Jesus is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!
And those are my thoughts.
Have a blessed and joyous Easter. I’ll look for you this Friday and rejoice with you this Sunday. God bless.
April is here and hopefully so is Spring. God’s blessings on you from the great folks at the Red Roof Church in Bulverde, Texas. Lee Harder, the senior pastor at St. Paul, coming to you for another week with some thoughts to share. I’d like to invite you to join us for worship this Sunday if you’re close by. We celebrate Christ at 8:30 AM and 10:45 AM. In between, there is coffee, donuts and good fellowship. Hope you’ll stop by.
With the coming of April it means Easter will soon be upon us. We pastors look forward to Easter because it’s the only other day during the year where you can count on vast crowds coming to worship. It’s when the C’s and E’s show up at church. For those not familiar with the term C’s and E’s, I’m referring to the Christmas and Easter Christians who finally make it to a house of worship. When Christmas or Easter rolls around, they make an extra effort. Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad they come which is why I never condemn or brow beat these “occasionals” for showing only on these days. What is sad is there are a lot of them.
It’s surprising how many Christians feel no need to come to worship the Lord every week. According to the Barna Group, where once Christians came to church for worship every Sunday, they now show up only once every few months. I am afraid of this growing trend, especially as I look at our young.
I mention this because I have been made aware of several people in their early twenties who have taken their own lives. Some close to here. Another who is related to dear friends from my ministry days up north. I’m not insinuating that these young people didn’t have faith. What I am inferring is that too many of our young people don’t have the depth of relationship that could be enhanced and built up by frequent worship and fellowship with other believers. This occurs in a worship setting, which is why God put such importance on our need for worship. It’s not because God is waiting around for us to praise Him, but that He knew we needed it to strengthen our own faith to take on the challenges of this life.
Regular worship gives us the opportunity to build a closer, deeper more meaningful relationship with God. We hear His Word read from Scripture. If the preacher is doing his or her job, the sermon focuses on those Scriptures as they help us meet the challenges, trials and difficulties of today’s world, not to advocate a particular politically correct social agenda. Yet, that’s only the beginning of the blessings that come in worship.
We gather together with fellow believers and gain strength from them even as we share our strength of faith with them. Whether it’s in the hymns sung or the prayers prayed, we do it together. When we come to the Lord’s Table, we communion (partake of the body and blood of Christ in the bread and wine) as the whole community of believers. You can’t do any of that isolated by yourself.
God made us to be social animals. Meaning, we need each other. Nowhere is this more true than in the church. Oh, I know the excuses used by those who argue that church (Sunday worship) isn’t for them. “The church is filled with hypocrites and sinners.” “It’s boring.” Well, as to the boredom, I’ll admit it can be a little slow, but compared to watching a golf tournament or baseball game or some of the mindless pablum on TV, it’ll blow your socks off. As to being filled with hypocrites and sinners, it is. Fortunately there’s always room for another. I promise, you’ll fit right in.
Please, come and worship our Lord this Easter Sunday. But give the Sunday after a try. You might discover a gift from God to hold you up in hard times. Besides, the donut/coffee lines after worship are shorter on the other Sundays.
And those are my thoughts.
Welcome to this week’s blog as we close out the month of March and enter into April. Hopefully, your March went out like a lamb, no April fool. The Red Roof Church of Bulverde, Texas would like to extend to you springtime blessings and greetings. I’m Lee Harder, the senior pastor at St. Paul, having the pleasure of sharing some thoughts with you. I’d like to personally invite you to join us for worship every Sunday morning at 8:30AM or at 10:45AM. I promise it is worship where God’s Word is Heard every week — no fooling.
I’ve got to be one of the luckiest people there is. As a pastor, my occupation goes hand in hand with my vocation as a Christian and I get paid for it besides. That should be enough blessing for anyone, but I have been given an extra dose. I love doing what I do and can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing.
During my life, I’ve had to do a fair number of jobs that haven’t exactly been a joy — road construction, janitorial work in equipment companies and churches, and sales to name a few. However, when I got to be a pastor all that changed. Preaching, teaching (even hormonal teenagers), and sharing my love for Christ is what I love doing more than anything else. Retire? I’ll do this as long as the good Lord allows me the strength and health to do it and a community of believers, like the disciples of the Red Roof Church, are willing to put up with me (which I hope is for a long time in both cases).
Not all of us have a job that we love. Some work at jobs that must be worked to pay the bills and we just do what we have to do. For those who believe in Jesus Christ, we do have a vocation (a calling from God) that we do love. Because of that, even a job that we have to do and maybe don’t like as much as we could still gives us the opportunity to show and share our love for
Christ. Our call from God is to share the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. That doesn’t mean we have to be preachers (A good thing since I don’t need more competitors). It does mean that the words we speak, the actions we perform, the compassion, kindness and understanding we show to others gives testimony to our faith in Christ. They see Jesus in us — or they don’t — it works either way.
As our Lenten journey is winding down, I hope you have had the chance to build a deeper, fuller, more loving relationship with our Lord. Lent is not just about seeing ourselves for who we are as sinners. More important is our desire to repent of our sins, change the way we live, and draw closer to the love of God by transforming our lives to meet with His desire for us. We have the example of Christ to follow and the strength of the Spirit to guide us in that process.
We might discover that we take a whole lot more joy in life in whatever we’re doing when we are more in line with God’s expectations for us.
And those are my thoughts.
God bless and have a great week.
Lee Harder, senior pastor at the Red Roof Church in Bulverde, Texas, wishing you God’s blessings as we meet for this week’s vlog. The great folks at St. Paul would love to have you join us for worship this Sunday at 8:30 and 10:45 AM. We promise that our fellowship of believers is where God’s Word is heard every week right from the heart of Scripture.
School here in San Antonio is now back in session. Spring break is over and the kids are back in school. That means our Christian Day School is also back in session for the week as well. I can’t wait. It means tomorrow (I’m writing this vlog on Monday the 18th.) and Wednesday I have chapel with them. I love sharing the stories of the Bible with the kids. They’re so eager and receptive. They want to be there.
I can’t tell you how important I think it is for children to know the pastor and as more than that strange guy in front of church. Besides, the payoff is huge. We have a few of our Christian Day School families who are disciples of the congregation. There is something gloriously magical and uplifting to have a young child run up to you before worship, face beaming, to hug your leg or hear them call out to their parents in the grocery store, “That’s my pastor!” Some of my most cherished possessions are a tree painted on a canvas with thumb prints for leaves in various colors of the children of the Day School and a hot pad (for the pastor chef) with prints from the kids (different year, similar idea).
The same contact is important when children get older and enter into more formal Christian education. I can’t fathom why a pastor wouldn’t want to be the primary teacher for understanding the basics of what we believe and why. I believe it’s a big part of the pastor’s responsibility and promised obligation when one becomes a pastor.
Our role as pastor is to preach and teach the good news of Jesus Christ. That means to all levels and ages. Connected to that is our commitment to equip the saints (including the young) to be true disciples of Christ so they can share their faith in the world. Despite rumors to the contrary, that is the work of the pastor (and administering the sacraments). This idea of “Let the pastor do it” is neither scriptural nor practical. No pastor can do it all and Jesus in the Great Commission never intended it to be that way.
We are a priesthood of believers who are all responsible to proclaim Christ and share our faith with the world. That’s our call as Christians. Yes, we need someone who can effectively help us develop the tools and confidence to go out into the world which is the challenge and role of the pastor.
I have another reason for teaching the children and youth. I want them to feel comfortable around the pastor. I want them to know they can trust me so if they need to talk or have fears and concerns, they can come to me confident that I will try to help.
Yet, a pastor can’t do it alone, even with a congregation willing to provide all the necessary resources. It takes the parents to make the commitment to encourage and demand their children of all ages receive sound Christian education. It is here I fear we are letting our children down. Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, confirmation or its equivalent are falling by the wayside. That might be okay if it is time for these approaches to evolve into something else more effective. The problem is, they are not evolving. They are just slowly dying as fewer and fewer parents are having their children attend to learn and grow.
I remember as a kid growing up and especially as a teenager going to confirmation, Christian education wasn’t always a high priority or great love for me. There were many Sundays I didn’t want to go. Thankfully, my parents didn’t give me a choice. I went. They made sure I went even if it was inconvenient for them. They knew it was important and acted accordingly.
I suspect this might be where some of the problem rests. Our children are doing more and more running of the parents’ lives instead of the reverse. I’m sure the ever greater influence and demands of the schools, especially in athletics, have added pressures of their own. Still, since when did children get to vote in decisions or dictate what they will or will not do? When did children get to be adults? Aren’t we as parents, the adults, supposed to show them by our example how to grow up to be responsible adults? Maybe I missed something in my childhood. Yes, my parents taught us to think and express an opinion, but they made the decisions, not me or my siblings.
I know, there are tremendous pressures on a family from the outside. The school places demands on family time. Sports & club sports place even more demands. Added to that are demands from the workplace and, if possible, the chance to play. The family in church, worshiping, sharing, growing and playing together in a Christian atmosphere is becoming a relic of the past. In my heart I believe that as it suffers because of a distracted lack of interest, so the family suffers because of a lack for the spiritual bond that gives the family meaning and holds it together.
My word of encouragement to parents is, “Take a time out!” However, make it a time out for the family to come closer to a God who loves them and cares for them and died for them.
And those are my thoughts.
Greetings from the fellowship of believers at the Red Roof Church in Bulverde, Texas. I’m Lee Harder, the senior pastor at St. Paul, wishing you God’s blessings and an invitation to join us as we worship our Lord, Jesus Christ. Our fellowship gathers for worship every Sunday morning at 8:30 AM for a more traditional style of worship and at 10:45 AM for a contemporary flavor. We’d love to have you join our family. Check out our website at redroofchurch.org and learn more about us.
I may have to give up looking at the news headlines and Facebook because they are beginning to depress me. Oh, I don’t mean the “bad news” because there’s always some of that and there’s good news, too. No, I’m thinking of the reports that keep popping up about what our younger generation is and isn’t doing.
Thanks to my own grandchildren, I am painfully aware that our children are not being taught cursive in our learning institutions (we called it “writing” when I was in school as opposed to “printing”). Further evidence was provided by my wife when she informed me that the students in her 5th & 6th grade church school class couldn’t “write” their names. They could only print them out.
I suppose not knowing how to write (cursive) isn’t the end of the world. However, as I recall, most of our historical documents (locally, state, nationally & internationally) were written out, you know, in cursive. If you can’t write or read it, doesn’t that imply the potential loss of history for posterity, besides one can’t “sign” (usually requiring cursive) a legal document. Although I imagine this fits in with today’s trend in re-writing (probably re-printing) history.
Truth isn’t nearly as important as making history socially correct, which also means condemning the past based on today’s moral and social standards. For now, I’ll refrain from commenting on the apparent inability to write (in this case print) the king’s English, you know, stuff like punctuation, sentence structure, and grammar.
Yet, the real killer is what our learning institutions (schools) are doing to math. I saw it with my own kids decades ago when they brought home “new math.” Back then there was a lot to do with “guessing” or “estimating” the answer, not to mention some puzzling methods of getting to an answer. Apparently, the answer (pardon me, the right answer) didn’t matter as much as following the new way of arriving at an answer, sometimes called a guesstimate. Close was good enough. I don’t recall the teachers of my day allowing a “close” answer as satisfactory.
However, this week I saw on Facebook a comparison of our old fashioned math (adding, subtracting, multiplying & dividing) with the new math as taught in common core. It almost defies description. In the comparison, they solve a simple multiplication problem. The old way was to rely on the multiplication tables we learned as kids by memorizing until we could say them in our sleep. Today’s equivalent involved diagrams. The old way was done, coffee was brewed & a dog taken out for its duty while the new way plodded on. There was an argument that it was a training session for kids versus an adult doing the problem. True. I will not deny. However, if this is the way these kids as adults are going to have to solve the problems of math, the world is in for a rude awakening. It was the most ridiculous and time consuming method I have even been privileged to witness. This is what our children are learning.
When one adds to that the new, revised and sanitized history, world and American, which portrays our founding fathers as evil and vile while the sources of socialism, totalitarianism, and communism in governments and empires as desirable, we got problems. Nor should we forget the lack of English literature in the classics which provide a solid grounding in speech and language, again I repeat, we got problems.
And just so we don’t leave the church out, we no longer feel the need to have our children and youth possess a knowledge of what we believe as Christians (according to the Bible as opposed to some politically correct agenda) and why.
I’m not blaming the kids either. I’m blaming us for relaxing our standards to the point where we have none of much value. Apparently, it isn’t important that we can talk and write correctly (it’s called communication) and use our minds to actually think, so long as we use the right emoji. So pound sign (#) and hash tag that for what it’s worth.
But those are just my thoughts.
God bless and have a great week.
Greetings from St. Paul Lutheran Church of Bulverde, Texas. I’m Lee Harder, the senior pastor, wishing you peace from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. If you’re searching for a spiritual home that serves a feast of God’s Word over entertainment, then I invite you to check out our website at redroofchurch.org and watch one of our worship celebrations. Better yet, if you’re in our neighborhood right off 281 and FM 1863, stop by. We worship at 8:30 and 10:45 AM every Sunday and at 7:00PM on Wednesday evenings during the Lenten season. I promise, you’ll hear God’s Word and not a social agenda. You might even be entertained, but you will be inspired.
I hope you had a good beginning to the season of Lent which began this past Wednesday, March 6th, Ash Wednesday. I’ve noticed mid-week Lenten worship doesn’t have the same desire of involvement it previously possessed at many churches. I saw a story on the internet about a 4th grader who came from worship to school marked with the sign of the cross on his forehead in ash only to be told by his teacher to remove it. Apparently, the teacher was unfamiliar with Christian tradition (at least in the liturgical churches like Roman Catholic and Lutheran, for example) of the imposition of the ashes on Ash Wednesday.
Surprisingly, I am not shocked. Lent, a time of thoughtful self-examination and penitential preparation to journey with Jesus to the cross of Good Friday is seemingly being replaced by a more secular desire for self-improvement. You know — Eat more Kale — Cut out Krispy creams — Exercise more — Detox.
I never was a big fan of the traditional “Give up something for Lent” crowd with the premise that we’ll suffer with Christ. I don’t recall Jesus denying Himself chocolate [did He even have chocolate to give up?] or give up sex don’t even think I’m touching that one]. I’ve also been an advocate of doing something FOR Lent of a more Christ-like nature rather than giving up something I shouldn’t over indulge in anyway.
However, the decline of Lent and its purposeful meaning has hit a new low with drive-thru ashes offered at a city church. Don’t worry about that depressing confession and absolution stuff. Repentance — that’s old school. Today’s modern Christian wants sin without regret and God on demand.
Can’t wait for Easter and drive-thru communion [yes, that’s been done too]. Just serve up that chilled wine and designer wafer and get me back on the road to that leg of lamb or roast turkey or baked ham at grandma’s nestled in a bed of green plastic grass surrounded by chocolate bunnies [after all Lent will be over] and jelly bean droppings.
Am I missing anything. If this is what your Lent and Easter has been or is, I’m guessing with a fair degree of confidence you are — Christ.
But those are just my thoughts as we begin our Lenten journey.
God bless and be sure you know what you see in the mirror staring back at you.
The past few days, I’ve been working on a variety of subjects all geared for the season of Lent. It starts on Wednesday, March 6th, which liturgical churches, such as St. Paul, know as Ash Wednesday. To my surprise, I’m beginning to learn there are many Christian churches, including some mainline denominational ones, that don’t have the same appreciation or awareness for what the church seasons, like Lent, are all about. It’s as if with the move in Christendom to be more socially relevant, old church stuff like seasons (except, of course, Christmas and Easter which tend to be seen as days and not the seasons they are) don’t matter any more. Too bad, it’s losing out on something very valuable when it comes to understanding our Lord Jesus.
For this reason, the seasons (well, at least half of them) focus on the life of Christ. The church year begins in late November or early December with the season of Advent, an exciting, anxious time of getting ready for Christmas (both the day and the SEASON — 12 days in number — you know, like the song). Christmas and Jesus coming into the world moves into Epiphany revealing who He came for — everybody. Those plucky, non-Jewish, Gentile type wise men who were the first to worship the newborn Savior prove that truth.
The Epiphany season makes way for the season of Lent, a time of penitential preparation for Jesus’ journey to the cross and our forgiveness of sin. This first half of the church year culminates with the joyous and glorious celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter morning which starts the season of Easter for the next seven weeks. The rest of the church year is Pentecost with the Holy Spirit coming into the world and the building and growing of the Christian Church from its early beginnings.
So, what’s the big deal? Why should it matter? It’s a relic of the old church and I suppose it is. Yet, I think it offers the Christian, and the one searching for a solid spiritual home, the chance to see an over all picture of our Lord’s work, which is still going on. As a pastor and a preacher, I would admit there are times it would be nice to ignore some of the seasonally assigned texts from the Bible. I mean, some of those lessons are real “hummers” in the “how do I explain this” department. Yet, to avoid them means I don’t grow as a Christian or a preacher. It sure isn’t going to help the person in the pew wrestling with God’s Word who might find a little insight beneficial.
Maybe, just maybe, if we took a more seasonally, old church view, of the church year we might be able to see and celebrate, understand and appreciate that days like Christmas and Easter are more than one shot wonders. They are the book ends of God’s Word in the flesh, Jesus Christ, restoring us to a loving relationship which had been broken by sin. That might be worth it.
And those are my thoughts.
Welcome to our blog for this week of February 17th. I hope you had a great Valentine’s Day with your favorite valentines. I’m Lee Harder, the senor pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church of Bulverde, Texas. We celebrate Christ in worship every Sunday at 8:30 AM and 10:45 AM. If you can’t stop by, then please check out our streamed worship instead. St. Paul just might have what you’re looking for in a spiritual home. Come see us and find out.
Since the middle of January, we have been in a spiritual campaign as an exercise program to strengthen the heart of a believer. We’re trying to come to the realization that there are dark forces at work in the world that seek to silence God’s Word of hope in Jesus Christ. That truth took on a new reality this past week.
Apparently, several months ago a former Muslim, who has become a Christian and trained to serve as a pastor currently leading a congregation elsewhere in the nation, was arrested in Minnesota’s Mall of America. Here in his own words are the events that transpired.
I was speaking at a church yesterday in Minneapolis, Minnesota and after the church one of the pastors and his son took me to the Mall of America. We randomly ran into some Muslims and we began a casual conversation. They asked me where I’m from and I told them, Iran. The conversation led to whether I’m a Muslim or not and I said I used to be a Muslim but I converted to Christianity. They asked me why? What happened? Why did you change? I told them after I heard that Jesus died for me and rose again, I gave my heart to him. And I was giving them my testimony. Another Muslim lady who was hearing us went and told the security that, “I’m harassing them.” The security came and arrested me, filed a report and the police came and took me to jail. I was charged with “illegal soliciting” and “criminal trespassing.” I need to appear in court sometime soon.
This event happening scares me in ways I haven’t been before. As a Christian and a pastor, I am only too aware of the painful truth and reality that Christians are no longer, how shall I put it, “The flavor of the month.” We are seeing the Christian faith, an integral part of the foundation of who we are as a nation and a people, being discarded which is sad enough. The Christian faith has been locked out our schools, the marketplace and the halls of justice; but, of greater concern is how other belief systems are being not just tolerated, (as they should be in our free nation) but embraced with enthusiastic acceptance where Christianity is not.
I truly believe God has blessed this country so richly as a Christian nation for a reason. We are to be an example of freedom and liberty for all regardless of creed or race. While we are far from perfect, by any means, we still are a model that the world could pattern itself after in generosity, freedom and compassion, despite our flaws which we do not deny, but seek to outgrow.
Yet, now there seems a concerted effort to silence who we are as believers in Jesus Christ. I have heard examples of pastors in Canada who have been silenced in their pulpits because of threats that their sermons can be considered “hate speech” because God’s Word runs contrary to current public standards of correctness. It would not surprise me if such would eventually happen here with current political and social trends. Now arresting a pastor because he is witnessing, not proselytizing or evangelizing, but sharing how he became a Christian to some Muslims who asked him how and why seems just wrong?
I continue to be shocked and dismayed when I see and hear how Christians are being attacked and ostracized from different elements of our culture because they are Christian. I am angered and enraged when I see people, especially leaders within the Christian community, treating forces that threaten our faith and the freedom of this nation as acceptable and equal in status to the Lord they confess.
Here’s where I stand concerning these outside forces. We do not worship the same God, but I accept every one’s right, in this free nation, to worship a god or deity any way they want. I expect the same from them in this free America. This is especially true of those who have the responsibility and duty to protect those rights. We all have freedom of speech and of worship as we see fit, regardless of our religion or faith. From a Christian perspective, acknowledging Jesus is not the same as believing in Him for our salvation, but we will respect another’s right to choose a different path. Every Christian should know that truth and act accordingly.
The church has been persecuted before, it is now and will be again in the future. However, I also know and believe it will never be destroyed or silenced because it is the body of Christ. It is His church, not ours. He is in control as these others continually discover to their regret. Fear not for He is with us.
And those are my thoughts. God bless us everyone!
I wish I could greet you with joy in my heart. I can’t. I will invite you to be a part of a family of believers that hold life sacred & humble ourselves before our Lord Jesus Christ. I’m Lee Harder, the senior pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church of Bulverde, Texas. We have worship celebrations every Sunday at 8:30 AM & 10:45 AM and you are welcomed to join us. I make this promise: You WILL hear God’s Word preached without compromise and that word does not condone or tolerate the murder of unborn children.
As I drove to church this morning I was dumb struck with the news that the state of New York has passed a law that…Well, let me quote — The law allows abortions to be performed by non-doctors up until the point of birth for many reasons. They actually cheered when it passed. It seems this same law will find its way into other states very quickly.
The murder of unborn children, children who have been conceived and grown within their mother for nine months, children who could survive and thrive outside the womb, is now acceptable in our society & heralded as wonderful news by the progressive left and the vile forces that pay them homage — the leftist media, the democratic party, the feminist movement, and more. Normally, I refrain from political statements about a party one way or the other, but on this subject I cannot be silent. Those who have taken the murder of unborn children to new, absurd levels have forced me, for the sake of personal conscience, to take a stand. I know, it’s all about the woman’s right to choose & control her own body. I get that.
I recognize I’m a man and know nothing. However, if a woman has the right to choose what happens to her body involving a pregnancy (and I believe she has), then explain why she doesn’t make the CHOICE not to get pregnant in the first place. Put aside the extreme circumstances where a pregnancy is the result of a violent act and let’s focus on willingly getting pregnant. YOU DON’T HAVE TO. For crying out loud, my teenage granddaughters can get all the birth control aids of all sorts for nothing, just ask. Some of them are not that old, but that doesn’t seem to matter to our modern schools. They will hand out birth control stuff just for the asking and mom and dad don’t have to know. For a woman, regardless of color, try saying “No!” If that’s not possible, for whatever reason including lust, then I say “You made your choice.” But there are still options. If you find yourself pregnant, which shouldn’t take that many weeks to figure out (if it does, you really aren’t smart enough to be a parent), seek out one of the countless free abortion clinics available, if you must. After all, isn’t that one of the benefits of tax payer supported places like Planned Parenthood?
However, if you feel you can have an abortion after nine months of carrying this child (Yes, it is a child.) then, please don’t kill it. Someone else will gladly take on the burden of responsibility you were too incapable or unwilling or too cowardly to do. Make a good choice!
Our nation is no longer sliding down the slippery slope to destruction. It has arrived when it is legal and acceptable in the name of choice and women’s rights to murder the unborn. You want proof it’s that bad. Check out the Animal Planet and the pet police. Persons who abuse and cause injury and death to a dog or cat will receive more punishment and condemnation in the state of New York than someone who seeks to have or performs an abortion of a child ready to come into the world as a real human being after nine months in the womb. That’s pathetic.
And those are my thoughts. May God bless us and have mercy on us.
Pastor Lee R. Harder