Greetings from the great folks at the Red Roof Church in Bulverde, Texas. I’m Lee Harder, the senior pastor, coming to you with another of my weekly vlogs and a personal invitation to worship with us this Sunday. We have worship celebrations at 8:30AM with a more tradition flavor and 10:45AM for the more contemporary appeal. Either way, I promise you will hear God’s Word from Scripture being preached without apology. You can also check out our delay broadcast of worship at our redroofchurch.org web site. Join us in praising our Lord, sharing in some good eats, and some inspiring Christian education for all ages. We’ll be looking for you this Sunday.
As of right now, we have survived Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. In addition, I have made it one more year with another birthday with a 48th anniversary with the love of my life looming on the horizon. However, before we get there we celebrate the 4th of July — Independence Day. I thought for a few weeks leading up to this important day, it couldn’t hurt to remind ourselves and some of our younger millennial types, as well as the historically challenged, just what makes this nation great. Please note, I said great, not perfect.
To begin, allow me to set an important tone from a Christian pastoral perspective that reminds us all, Christians and non-believers alike, we are all by nature sinful and unclean. Simply, none of us is perfect. The persons that seem bent on chastising to the point of exorcism important persons of our American history, events of great distinction and significance, and their contributions to who we are as a people and a nation should take serious note that what they do endangers their future. Some day a generation that follows them might deem it necessary to cast condemnation on their belligerent disregarding of the absolute truth that they too are by nature sinful and unclean. The guilty parties & the historically challenged are now warned.
One of the favorite targets of today’s elites is one of the greatest persons in the history of this nation, Thomas Jefferson. A good friend sent me some information about Jefferson that we need to see & I would share it with all, especially those who see him as evil because he owned slaves at one time in his life. Was it wrong? Yes, but still a condition of the period in which he lived, and including blacks and whites being indentured as slaves, too. Would Jefferson be proud of the fact today, decidedly not, because he was opposed to slavery even in his own time. I know, the nay Sayers would submit that he believed that blacks were inferior to other races, which was an attitude held by many foolish people. Is it right? No! Does that mean everything a man like that did is now valueless? Again, I say No! Let the one without sin cast the first stone. He is in some ways a product of his time and culture.
Look at what this man did in his lifetime.
1. At 5, began studying under his cousin's tutor.
2. At 9, studied Latin, Greek and French.
3. At 14, studied classical literature and additional languages.
4. At 16, entered the College of William and Mary. Also could write in Greek with one hand, while writing the same in Latin with the other.
5. At 19, studied Law for 5 years starting under George Wythe. 6. At 23, started his own law practice.
7. At 25, was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses.
8. At 31, wrote the widely circulated "Summary View of the Rights of British America," and retired from his law practice.
9. At 32, was a delegate to the Second Continental Congress.
10. At 33, wrote the Declaration of Independence.
11. At 33, took three years to revise Virginia's legal code and wrote a Public Education bill and a statute for Religious Freedom.
12. At 36, was elected the second Governor of Virginia, succeeding Patrick Henry.
13. At 40, served in Congress for two years.
14. At 41, was the American minister to France and negotiated commercial treaties with European nations along with Ben Franklin and John Adams.
15. At 46, served as the first Secretary of State under George Washington.
16. At 53, served as Vice President and was elected President of the American Philosophical Society.
17. At 55, drafted the Kentucky Resolutions and became the active head of the Republican Party.
18. At 57, was elected the third president of the United States.
19. At 60, obtained the Louisiana Purchase, doubling the nation's size.
20. At 61, was elected to a second term as President.
21. At 65, retired to Monticello.
22. At 80, helped President Monroe shape the Monroe Doctrine.
23. At 81, almost single-handedly, created the University of Virginia and served as its' first president.
24. At 83, died on the 50th Anniversary of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence, along with John Adams.
When Jefferson was drafting the documents that would become the foundation of this nation and democracy, he himself studied the previous failed attempts at government. He understood actual history, the nature of God, His laws and the nature of man. That happens to be way more than what most understand today. Jefferson knew his stuff.
Was he perfect, by no means. But he was brilliant despite his flaws. And we would not have this nation with its liberty and standard of freedom for all if it were not for him. The stone throwers had better take that into account.
Once John F. Kennedy, revered by both sides of the political spectrum (even though he was a philanderer in his own right — meaning not perfect) held a white house dinner for the brightest minds of the nation. At that event, he made this statement: This is perhaps the assembly of the most intelligence to ever gather at one time in the white house, with the exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.
I truly hope that this information gets some people thinking, but it probably won’t since thinking is a luxury some people can’t seem to afford. Jefferson was a God-fearing, devoted servant to humanity and his Creator that strove to plant a nation which all people could look to for inspiration. He was a man who saw into the future and could not have done so without some help from God which he always acknowledged.
Next week some quotes that shows he envisioned some of the struggles we endure today from those who always persist in diminishing the greatness of this nation for their own purposes.
And those are my thoughts as we get ready for Independence Day.
God bless. Have a great week.
Greetings from the good folks at the Red Roof Church in Bulverde, Texas. My name is Lee Harder, the senior pastor at St. Paul Lutheran, wishing you God’s blessings and joy in the week of Father’s Day. I would personally like to invite you to join us this Sunday as we celebrate our heavenly Father and His continual love for us shown every day. We worship at 8:30AM and 10:45 AM with a focus on Scripture because we are a family of believers Where God’s Word Is Heard every week. There’s something for all ages. If you can’t join us in God’s house, then visit us at our web site and watch our worship celebrations there. You just might decide the Red Roof Church is the place to make your spiritual home.
Sunday, June 16th is Father’s Day. I’ve noticed that Father’s Day doesn’t seem to have the same high priority as other holidays. In contrast, Mother’s Day is a huge deal. If one forgets Mother’s Day you can be pretty sure that life is coming to an end. At the very least, you will be in the dog house until Father’s Day rolls around and only then will you possibly receive a pass to get out of the hot water you have been consigned to since that day in May.
There can be little doubt that a billion dollar industry has been made out of Mother’s Day. I mean the cards (and there seem to be no cheap ones—not that I would ever consider buying a cheap card for my wife or mother), the flowers (thanks goodness for HEB here in Texas which provides a storehouse of cut flowers for any emergency need, including Mother’s Day), special meals (as in taking the whole family out to brunch or a nice restaurant), candy, and don’t forget the jewelry (personally my favorite if one plans ahead, which I wisely did). Dad is lucky to get a card and a tool (which one never can turn down, since there are never enough tools). Don’t forget, he can also go out to grill as the family gathers on his special day.
The marginal status of our day, guys, is somewhat self inflicted. Men have allowed themselves to become so de-masculinized it’s hard to recognize ourselves. In fact, the whole culture has marginalized the male, a man, into something to be shunned at all cost if we fail to fit the culture’s feminized version. We get no recognition at all and if we are noticed, we are looked upon as a sub-species. Sometimes I think the LGBTABCXYZ communities are more favorably received by our culture than a man’s man is accepted. Just look at the shopping parking lots. They have places for the handicapped (not totally there yet), pregnant mothers (heh, I’m carrying around a lot of extra weight too) or mother’s with kids. Where is the spot close to the entrance for “old, over-weight guys”? I won’t even begin to discuss the commercials on TV. The only things we get recognition for is erectile dysfunction and low T, incontinence, and the latest old people’s drugs. Oh, and balding. But there’s more.
Look, I’m of the opinion that since God made us different, male and female, He intended us to be the way we are. He gave each one a different set of operational specks upon which to function. They are different. That’s okay. I suspect the reason God made us different is because He intended for us to compliment one another in a partnership that makes the sum greater than the parts. I think that’s a good thing. So what if we have different ways of communicating or problem solving (Men tend to operate like waffles doing things one square at a time, while women function like spaghetti, multi-tasking in the extreme, but still getting a mountain of stuff done). We just need to respect each other’s approaches.
I am also a firm believer in women and children first — in the life boats and in everything else. The role of man, husband, and father is to protect, cherish, and provide for our families. If that means sacrificing ourselves for the benefit of those we love, then so be it. That doesn’t mean we lord it over the family, in particular our wives because that’s not working in a partnership. We guys do our things and the gals do theirs. (Oh, that’s right, that kind of talk is sexist too. Like I care.) As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’ve seen my wife’s job and I don’t want it. I don’t think she wants mine either.
We fathers have an important role to play. We need to step up to the plate and take on the responsibility we were created for by God to be a provider, a protector and, most importantly, an example for which our wives & mothers can be proud, and our children can look up to as a pattern on how to live their lives.
We don’t need cards or gifts as much as an “I love you, dad!” or “I’m glad your there, dad!” or “Happy Father’s Day! Wish we could be together.”
And those are my thoughts.
God bless and don’t forget to thank the father of us all who does everything for us. Thank you, Lord!
Greetings from the great folks at the Red Roof Church in Bulverde, Texas. I’m Lee Harder, the senior pastor here at St. Paul, inviting you to check out my weekly vlog and share it with your friends. I try to have a few thoughts that might bring a smile to your face or give you something to wrestle with. If you are searching for a church that uses Scripture to help deal with life’s concerns, then I invite you to visit the Red Roof Church. I promise at our worship celebrations you are guaranteed to find the help and encouragement you need because it is WHERE GOD’S WORD IS HEARD and I don’t compromise His message. We worship every Sunday at 8:30AM and 10:45 AM. There’s plenty of room in our family for yours to join in and we would love to have you join us.
This Sunday, June 9th is the celebration of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came into the world. The Christian Church thinks of it as the birthday of the Church. In many ways it is. As Jesus was about to ascend, He told His disciples to return to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit, the Comforter promised by the Father, to come. He did with the sound of a mighty wind rushing into their presence as tongues of fire appeared upon their heads and they began to proclaim the mighty works of God. The Church was indeed born as 3,000 souls came to believe that day alone.
The Christian Church has done a lot of growing since then, as well as face a great many challenges and trials. Yet, despite all the up and downs, the Church is still here to meet even greater challenges. You know why, because it’s not our church, it’s God’s. The Church is the body of Christ, His bride, called to share a message of love and salvation with the world. However, it is a message based on God’s definition of obedience predicated in His holy and precious Word, not ours.
Now, that’s big, but I can go one better. When God made the world, it was perfect. So was the relationship we human beings had with our Creator. God made us to be His eternal companions. Unfortunately, when given the opportunity to choose between doing God’s will or our own, we put the gifts of intelligence and knowing right from wrong given to us by God as He created us in His image, on the sidelines. To quote the knight in The Last Crusade, “we chose poorly.” We thought we could be our own gods.
Yet, even as God drove us from paradise, He promised to restore us to the relationship that existed before sin came into the world with our poor choices. It took a long time, eons, and much patience on God’s part because we are indeed slow learners. Yet, the moment came. With Jesus taking the sins of humanity upon Himself, paying the price for our disobedience, salvation and restoration were a reality. When Jesus told His disciples, “I am with you always even to the end of the age” He laid the foundation for that promise of God’s to be fulfilled.
When the Holy Spirit came to the disciples, He not only paved the way for the birth of the Church, He made God’s promise of old true. Where the Word of God is heard, the Holy Spirit is present in us. That means we can come to God any time, any where knowing that we have a deep, personal, loving relationship with our Creator, Father. We don’t need to offer sacrifices because Jesus has made the ultimate sacrifice. We don’t need priests to intercede for us because we are all ministers, a royal priesthood, and can come to God on our own thanks to the saving action of Christ, our Lord.
Yup, birthdays are a wonderful thing, cause for celebration and happiness. But knowing we have the relationship of love and devotion with our God, at long last restored, is even better. It means the only thing that can make that better is when we actually come into His heavenly presence and be with Him for eternity.
For those of you who already believe — Happy Birthday. For those who don’t know Jesus, I invite you to come to the promise of eternity that awaits by faith in Christ Jesus.
And those are my thoughts. God bless and have a great week.
Greetings to you and yours on this first week of June. Lee Harder, senior pastor at the Red Roof Church here in Bulverde, Texas, wishing you the joy of our Lord’s loving presence each and every day. If you’re searching for a spiritual home WHERE GOD’S WORD IS HEARD, then look no further. St. Paul, the Red Roof Church, is the place you seek. We worship every week in both traditional (8:30 AM) and contemporary (10:45 AM) styles with Holy Communion celebrated at all services. We would love to have you check us out this Sunday or visit our web site at redroofchurch.org
Well, Karen is back this May 31st, much to the relief of some here at church who have been keeping me together in her absence. (She owes Sherry big time, not that I was that bad, just a little down.) It seemed like forever that she was gone. A week can seem that long, really. I know one reason why, besides just missing her being there. I can sum it up in these words: I have seen her job and I don’t want it.
When we were younger in Minnesota, besides working outside the home for the local newspaper after the kids got older, she took care of us. Three kids, one husband and a large dog were cared for and nurtured all the time. She made a warm, clean, loving home for us. That means all the regular households chores, duties and responsibilities that come with being a mother and a wife with never a complaint — well at least no complaint that weren’t deserved. In addition, she was a pastor’s wife and I won’t even begin to explain all that title entails.
Now that the kids are all grown up with families of their own, Karen no longer works outside the home at a paying job, but she is still very much working, inside the home and out. Since she is still the pastor’s wife, none of those involvements have diminished. If anything, here in Texas they have multiplied as she is very much involved in the life of the congregation and in demand. After all, the congregation fell in love with Karen and allowed me to come along with her.
I repeat, after taking care of two large, demanding, spoiled Golden Retrievers who think they are in charge and probably are to a large degree, and the birds and trying to keep the house relatively clean — I’ve seen her job (and no where near did I come close to doing it all) and I don’t want it.
I write this as Father’s Day draws near with a reminder to all men, husbands and fathers. If you are blessed with a wife who is worthy of praise, then make sure you praise her, love her, respect her, and help her. As it says in Proverbs 31:10-12 — A truly good wife is the most precious treasure a man can find! Her husband depends on her, and she never lets him down. She is good to him every day of her life. She is too valuable a treasure to lose and do without. I know, I can’t do without Karen. If you doubt me, have your wife be gone for a week and see how you feel doing some of her job as well as your own?
Welcome home, Honey. We missed you — a lot.
And those are my thoughts.
Greetings from the folks at the Red Roof Church in Bulverde, Texas. Lee Harder, senior pastor, wishing you God’s blessings as we officially kick off the summer. If you are shopping around for a spiritual home, I invite you to visit us this Sunday at 8:30AM or 10:45AM for worship and fellowship at St. Paul. There’s a donut and a cup of coffee with your name on it waiting, fun for the kids to do and the chance to hear God’s Word unashamedly proclaimed. If you can’t come in person, then check out our web site at redroofchurch.org.
This week for me is a huge reminder on the absolute importance and essential need I have for the guidance of two vital persons of my life. The first is my wife, Karen. She has flown north to visit our son and grandkids in Minnesota. With a little luck, she’ll touch base with our second daughter’s family, too. I just couldn’t get away. That said, I am alone. Well, not really alone since the girls (our two Golden Retrievers — Jessie and Molly) are here with me. They feel alone, too.
Karen is my partner who keeps me humble and ground in sanity in a world that is more than a little crazy. It’s more than doing things together, talking, eating and such. It’s just her reassuring presence and knowing she’s there for me and I for her. After 48 years this July, one would think we would have gotten tired of each other and need some time away. Don’t you believe it. Friday can’t come soon enough. The dogs and I will be panting and jumping for joy because Mom’s back!
The second part is God’s presence that defines who I am as a pastor and my call to serve the Lord in proclaiming HIS WORD. I almost forget. For reasons not necessary to share here, I felt the need to tone down my passion for the Lord and the call to guide His people as a pastor in my preaching. I started second guessing myself in what I wanted to say in my sermons, trying to make sure I didn’t say anything that would offend.
Then I came across some research articles about what is happening in the Christian Church today because of pastors seeking not to offend their listeners with calls to repentance. Keep the mood light so the people in the pews will be bright and don’t take flight because words like sin and obedience were mentioned. I almost gave in to such a thought.
Oh, I’ll probably tone down my volume a little bit. After all, I’m a big guy with a big booming voice and that can be intimidating. However, I won’t stop being a pastor who is charged by God in His call to guide His people in His Word for His purposes. I can’t live without His Word in my heart leading me to serve Him and I will not compromise it for anything.
I can’t live without Karen to keep me humble and sane. I REALLY can’t live without God’s presence and the call to proclaim His Word. He has called me to be a sheep dog for His people, not the shepherd since He has that more than covered. Nope, just His sheep dog to keep His flock headed where He wants them to go. I’ll just refrain from biting and barking too much and then only when it’s necessary. It’s God’s call.
And those are my thoughts.
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.
Pastor Lee R. Harder