Greetings from the good people of the Red Roof Church. I’m Lee Harder, senior pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Bulverde, Texas, wishing you God’s blessings and much joy at this time of thanksgiving. We invite you to join us every Sunday for worship at 8:30 AM or 10:45 AM as we celebrate Christ in our lives. With the celebration of Thanksgiving soon upon us, I would offer a special invitation to come worship with us Wednesday evening, November 27th at 7:00 PM as we give thanks to our Creator for all He has done for us.
This past week Karen got a picture from someone that speaks volumes. She ended up sharing it with her Facebook friends and I’m sharing it with you. It was actually a collage of four pictures. The top picture showed the massive crowds that gather along the streets lining a Thanksgiving Day Parade. The city in question doesn’t matter because the amount of humanity seeking to catch a glimpse of the floats & marching bands is pretty much the same any where you go. It is mass humanity. The second picture was a shot of the huge crowds pushing at the doors of some store ready to stampede for the Black Friday specials on sale. (I wonder if the crowds will be as big the day after Thanksgiving this year since Black Friday seemed to start last week already. Probably, since people can’t pass up the big screen TV or game system on sale, even if they have several already.) They’ll be out in force. The third picture was of an stadium packed to over whelming at a Saturday sporting event, probably football; but, other sports are drawing their share of crowds, too. People, people, people, packed so close together that one could faint and never fall to the ground due to the closeness of those standing near.
Then came the last picture of the collection. It was a picture of a church service. It wasn’t difficult to count the people attending because there were so few. You could almost hear the echoes coming from the empty space.
It’s a sad epitaph on the state of affairs in our world today.
According to one of the latest revelations from the Pew Foundation, research indicates that people who consider themselves to be Christian and religious are leaving the church. Every age group is leaving even if some are doing it more energetically than others and they are not coming back. Oh, they shuffle around for a while, departing from the mainline churches and checking out the non-denominational, “happy” churches, but they are in the long run leaving. Apparently God is too demanding and restrictive.
Similar things happened in the days of Solomon when the people migrated away from God and found a fascination with the pagan gods he imported thanks to his many wives. This went on for the second half of his forty-one year reign as king over Israel. In the end, after he died and his son Rehoboam took over the kingdom, it was divided and ultimately, lost as Babylon destroyed the temple and much of Jerusalem, carting off the cream if Jewish society to slavery.
Judging by the diminishing church involvement today and the rise in pursuing the pantheon of modern day false deities we seem infatuated with, we may find ourselves facing the same kind of challenges.
As we approach a national time of thanksgiving, it might be the right time to remember the God who loves us, died for us, and seeks nothing less than to spend eternity with us. We have much to be thankful for, even in our modern world, with which God has blessed us. I hope you’ll find a church that offers a thanksgiving service and in worshipful praise, give thanks to the author of our lives.
And those are my thoughts. God bless and see you in church.
Welcome to this week’s blog from the Red Roof Church in Bulverde, Texas. I’m Lee Harder, the senior pastor at St. Paul, welcoming you and your family to join us in our regular blog and at worship this Sunday. We have worship celebrations of Word and Sacrament at 8:30 AM and 10:45 AM. We would be honored to have you be a part of our spiritual family.
This week I’m preaching from the Old Testament. Specifically, I talking about the call of Moses from the burning bush. Now this might sound strange, but I connected it to the purchase this week of a new dishwasher for our home. I make the connection under the title “Truth in Advertising.”
When I searched the internet for dishwashers I settled on getting a Bosch 100 series in black. All the reviews were great & it might be nice not to have to turn the TV up to a deafening level to overcome the sound of the running washer. We also got a good price. We only paid $700.00 for a $449.00 dishwasher. Apparently, the well advertised price did not include “EXTRAS” that were absolutely essential if the machine was actually going to wash dishes. Delivery was free since it’s Black Friday (I thought that was the day after Thanksgiving. Silly me, what do I know because everybody has got Black Friday sales on now and it’s not even Friday.). That was the only extra that was free. There is sales tax, I dig that. The kit cost (Bosch is German & requires a special kit which they do not give away), the installation cost (expected), the special plug cost (I suppose plugging it in is necessary) & the charge to take the old machine away. In any event, we got to pay a whopping $250.00 more for a machine advertised for sale at $449.00. Where is the truth in advertising?
When God called Moses from the burning bush, He made it clear what He expected of Moses to do. Go to Egypt and free His people from slavery. Do whatever is necessary, but convince Pharaoh to “Let my people go!” God would help him, but it wouldn’t be easy and it wouldn’t be quick, but God expected Moses to deliver the people.
Jesus had the same expectations of us when it comes to being disciples. He expects us to go out into the world and spread the word of salvation in Christ. Let people know that Jesus died to pay for our sins. God loves us that much. When Jesus gave that assignment to all who believe in Him, He didn’t lie and tell us it would be a piece of cake, easy and no problem at all. Instead, He told us that it would be hard. People in the world would persecute us and hate us and maybe even try to kill us to silence God’s message.
I think we would have to say that God is all about truth in advertising. He means what He says and doesn’t hide any of the extra costs. Wouldn’t it be great if the world operated the same way.
I’m a big fan of truth. That’s why when it comes to my preaching on Sunday mornings, I don’t mince words and I don’t pull punches. You will get the truth based on God’s Word in the Bible, not how our culture would like it to be but how God intended it to be understood. There will be both Law that reminds us we are sinners in need of God’s salvation and Gospel that gives us hope that our sins can be washed away and our relationship with our loving God restored. God has expectations of us when we enter into His family as believers and calls on us to respond truthfully in our devotion and commitment. Moses came to understand that and so did Jesus’ disciples and so must we as Christians today. Truth in advertising.
And those are my thoughts.
God bless and have a great week.
Greetings from the people of the Red Roof Church in Bulverde, Texas located near the exit of 1863 on highway 281. I’m Lee Harder the senior pastor welcoming you to our regular weekly Blog. I hope you check in with us every week at redroofchurch.org to see the latest edition. We’re also on Facebook and YouTube. If you are someone looking for a church to call your spiritual home, then I would like to invite you to join us for worship this Sunday at 8:30AM or 10:45AM. Our friendly folks will make you feel welcomed and a important part of the St. Paul family.
This Sunday is a special day in the Christian Church. It’s All Saints’ Sunday. On this day across the Church, we remember and honor the saints, those men and women who were pillars of the Church by their examples of faith and devotion to God and discipleship in Jesus Christ. They believed in Jesus as the source of our salvation and surrendered their lives before Him. While we honor all that they did, we also recognize them as an inspiration for our own love of the Lord Jesus.
Yet, as Christians we know there is more to the saints than those great names of biblical history and the Church in the past who have gone on to their heavenly rewards. There are also those saints who have touched our lives by their commitment to Christ and the work of the Church they did while they lived among us. Even more intimately connected to us, these are the people, family and friends, witnesses and examples of Christ-like living that were a model for our lives. They not only inspired us, they became the guides and patterns by which we built our lives and relationships in the world and in the church. I know that each of us have loved ones and people we care about that are still very much an influence on how we live our lives. They, too, might be gone from this life, but they will never be gone from our personal lives because they are forever a part of us.
However, understanding the saints doesn’t even end there. It can’t, because we also need to see ourselves as saints as well. While we are still very much works in progress, we are saints. And that’s what is so neat. The Holy Spirit in His work of sanctification in each of us is making us holy, preparing us for heaven. That process is a life long one. It starts in our baptism and doesn’t come to a completion until we breath our last. Let me explain with this: Today, the Spirit of God is making me holy. I am more holy today than I was yesterday, but not as holy as I will be tomorrow — A work in progress. Simply, if we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we are counted among the number of the saints and the Holy Spirit works within us.
That’s fantastic! It is also a little overwhelming since it means we are to be an example and an inspiration to those around us. Being a saint carries with it an awesome responsibility. Saints need to let others come to know Christ and the salvation He alone offers. To accomplish that goal, people need to see Jesus living in us with the things we do, the things we say, and the way we conduct ourselves.
So, to my fellow saints, I bid you God’s love and blessings. Let the world see our love for Christ in everything we do.
And those are my thoughts.
Take care and God bless.
Greetings from the Red Roof Church, St. Paul Lutheran in Bulverde, Texas. I’m Lee Harder the senior pastor and I would like to invite you to join us for worship this Sunday at 8:30 AM or 10:45 AM as we celebrate the birth of the Lutheran Church.
When Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg castle his sole hope and desire was to help move the Christian church back to Scripture and the authority of God’s Word which takes precedent over our human rites and traditions, as much as we may love them. Sadly, over the years, the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church had become entranced with the power, prestige and wealth they had accumulated. As the expression goes, “They started to believe their own press.” They moved from being servants of God to the people and began to think of themselves as lords to be served by the people.
Jesus faced the same problem and attitude in His day with the religious leaders of Israel. They, too, had an attitude problem. As Jesus told them, they heaped upon the people rules and regulations which they themselves did not follow. (Boy, that sounds a lot like what our elected leaders in Washington are doing to us. We should have health care or retirement packages or fringe benefits like they have. Better yet, maybe they should have to deal with the same garbage they dump on us.) God called these religious leaders to be caretakers of His Word, not corruptors. He called them to be ones who nurtured and helped people in their relationship with God, to know Him, not a source for driving them away from God’s truth.
I mention this sad reality this week because it is Reformation for many of us. In Jesus’ day, He stood against those who had failed in their office and responsibilities and called them “Hypocrites!” In Martin Luther’s day he faced a civil government and a church hierarchy that wanted him silenced and dead, even at the cost of God’s truth in the Bible. Luther was given the chance to take back what he had written and said, but rather than do that he declared, “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures and by clear reason (for I do not trust in the pope or councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by Scriptures I have quoted. My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me.”
Time moves on but things don’t seem to change. In our own times we have church leadership that has abandoned God’s truth in the Bible because it is inconvenient in our modern, politically correct church and world. Likewise, we have an elected leadership that wants to re-write or discard our founding documents. More than ever, we need for people of faith to stand on God’s Word because the world continues to seek the silencing of His truth so the world’s standards of morality and ethics can prevail.
Our founding fathers understood that as they forged a nation that put God first, our existence seen as a divine gift. As they declared in our independence almost 250 years ago, they did so standing on the presence of God as vital to our existence. Jefferson wrote in the conclusion of the Declaration: And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence (that’s God for the poorly informed) we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor. He also wrote: God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are a gift from God?
It’s time we reform ourselves to have the courage to stand boldly in the face of those who attack and act upon our faith in God and His Word. If those who attack through diminishing, discarding & denigrating the Word of God are allowed to go unchallenged, Satan wins and the forces of evil prevail over truth.
Both in the Christian Church and in the governing of this nation, we have been silent for too long.
When they took prayer out of our schools — we were silent.
When they removed the Ten Commandments from the halls of Justice — we were silent.
When they re-write our history and condemn it or fabricate falsehoods about it, denying divine Providence — we are silent.
When they set aside the Old Testament as well as selective verses of Christ from the New Testament because they don’t fit in the world’s standard of morality — we are silent.
It’s time we break our silence and make a bold stand on God’s Word.
Soon our nation will again vote for the persons who will represent “We The People” across the width and breadth of this Judeo-Christian nation. Shouldn’t the people who are nominated to serve “We The People” in all branches of government be willing to stand on the principles and morals that established this Republic in the first place? Our founding fathers established a nation that had “Freedom OF religion, not “Freedom FROM.” Yet, on both sides of the political spectrum, supported by large swaths of the Christian Church, we see a growing trend of movement away from God’s truth to embrace a secular humanism that will destroy us.
Look, I’m not trying to be political because I speak for no party. However, I do speak for the values, ethics and morality that the grace of God in His infinite love has generously given to us for our well-being and benefit. For the one who confesses to being a disciple of Christ, if we compromise our values and morality for worldly gain and acceptance, can we really call ourselves Christian?
At this time of Reformation, as we hear the God-given courage of Martin Luther and others, when we consider the candidates, all the candidates, let us stand firmly on God’s Word as we determine their worthiness to serve as our representatives in government. I want persons who will uphold our Judeo-Christian, God given values to serve “We The People.”
And those are my thoughts.
Welcome to our Blog from St. Paul Lutheran Church in Bulverde, Texas. I’m Lee Harder, the senior pastor of St. Paul known as the Red Roof Church. I’d like you to join us each week as I share some thoughts with you. Better yet, why not check out our web page at redroofchurch.org or join us for worship this Sunday at 8:30AM or 10:45AM. We’re anxious to share our love for Christ with you.
This week I’ll begin by demonstrating the advantages and disadvantages of a classical education in a Christian Liberal Arts College of 60 years ago. Yes, that would be from the last millennium, but then, so am I. The Bard (that’s Willy Shakespeare for those never introduced to real, classical literature) wrote in his work, Hamlet, a line spoken by the chief protagonist (fancy way of saying “Hamlet said it”) — To Be, Or Not to Be: That is the Question. Well, allow me (with the permission of the master) to paraphrase it by applying it to the act of blogging and/or vlogging — To Blog, Or Not to Blog: That is the Question.
You see, I have discovered that the honest, sincere, exchange of ideas, concepts, realities and perceived truth doesn’t matter. Someone is always going to feel that what is said shouldn’t be said because it will offend, upset or disappoint them. After all, this venue is a method of advertising a particular goal or product. If what is said offends, then the source for the offense (in this case me) could possibly adversely impact the church I serve. Yet, this can be a source for venting and elaborating on topics that need addressing even if some maybe offended, alienated, conflicted or upset.
Look, I’m just sharing my thoughts. While I certainly mention who I am and where I can be found, it is to provide the source for where that is. If you find me irascibly or intellectually stimulating, you could come and learn more, especially about our Lord Jesus. I have a passion for sharing our Lord and helping people think. I am certainly not trying to keep a neutral view on life and subjects of interest to me. Simply, I share my thoughts (underline “my thoughts” not the church’s because they are mine) honestly and sometimes bluntly, while having a little fun even by poking fun at myself. It’s also a way to keep in practice writing to keep me sharp. After all, there’s a sermon which must be prepared each week. I’ll use humor, metaphors, stereotypes, exaggerations and more all for the purpose of getting people to think. Could it turn some people off? Yes. At the same time, it might turn some people on to a train of thought that makes them think. Whether spiritual, political, social or cultural, getting someone to think is always a good thing. God made us to be intelligent creatures. I suspect He intended we should use it. So, the answer to the question as to whether to Blog/Vlog or not is, as far as I’m concerned a big “YES!”. I’m having fun & I like thinking and stimulating others to do the same.
That said, I came across some material on why people leave a church. Certainly the topic is one that affects all churches, regardless of denomination or lack of denomination, in Christendom. There are dozens of sites showing why people move from upbeat, modern contemporary churches with their driving beat and pyro-technic light shows surrounding a moderate Scripture based message to more traditional churches or away from church altogether. There were just as many sites with the reverse explanations of people moving out of traditional mainline churches to contemporary settings or, again, outside the church entirely.
I think of it as a churchy version of shopping at HEB. People used to shop for themselves, you know, walk the aisles, compare prices, fill their carts, bag their groceries, drive them home and unpack them. Now, with ever growing numbers, more and more are having someone else do the work for them so they can just pick the groceries up or even have them delivered to their front door.
People used to be loyal to a church, specifically a congregation, because it was their spiritual home and they identified with it. They invested themselves in it through their involvement. Through thick or thin, good times or bad, they would remain loyal. They understood that to be a member of a church or better yet a disciple means you have to do the work yourself. It isn’t going to be done for you.
Today, I accept the growing numbers of those either incapable of shopping for themselves (We’re getting older — me, too, but I still do my own shopping. We’ve already established in past vlogs I am an in control kind of guy.) or just not wanting to be bothered for less than positive reasons. The number of people in churches wanting a free ride with God delivering a painless, less demanding or critical expectation of their role in the church as a disciple is growing, too. Instead of working to make things better in a church setting, many are now shopping for a church that is better now, at least for today. If things change (and they will) it will be time to go church shopping again. I thought it was about our relationship with Jesus and not what makes me satisfied in church. But I could be wrong.
Too bad! One day I suspect the Lord just might have something to say about all this.
And those are my thoughts.
God bless and have a good week.
Welcome to this week’s blog. I’m Lee Harder the senior pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Bulverde, Texas, known as the Red Roof Church. I would like to invite you to join us for worship this Sunday and every Sunday at either 8:30AM for a traditional worship celebration or at 10:45AM for our contemporary worship. I promise you’ll hear about Christ. I hope you’ll check us out.
It’s been one of those weeks and I couldn’t help but remember an old magazine I read as a kid, MAD magazine, with its iconic image of Alfred E. Newman and his “What, me worry?” You remember, the fictitious mascot and cover boy of that American humor magazine. The character's distinct face, with his parted red hair, gap-tooth smile, freckles, protruding nose, and scrawny body was to be found on the cover of every issue.
There are a number of different definitions one can assign to the phrase “What, me worry?” For example:
1. As an interrogatory, indicative of a nonchalant attitude towards potential criticism, not caring about what other people think, confident and self-possessed.
2. Someone who doesn't care about anything.
Well, I don’t know anybody who isn’t a little concerned about what others think even if they are confident. Likewise, I pity anyone who doesn’t care about anything, but I suppose there are some. So, we worry, at least a little and sometimes a lot.
Worry is one of the most pervasive things we face in life. It consumes some of us and effects nearly all of us in some way. We worry about all sorts of things, small and large in our lives. We worry about the world; wars, immorality, famine and hunger, disease, oil prices and the world-wide financial crisis. We worry about things in our individual lives; our finances, our children, our spouses, our health. And we worry about very mundane things like the expiration dates on the milk and eggs in our refrigerators.
On the subject of worry Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-27 — "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” A moment later in Matthew 6:34 Jesus added, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Boy, is He right, but how to implement is the issue.
The trouble is putting the worry aside. It’s easier said than done. Oh, I’ve counseled many a soul about how they must put aside their worry and give it to God. I just can’t do it with the success I would like. Some days I’m better at it than others, but there are THOSE days which always come. Maybe it’s because of my role as a pastor. It’s not easy being the smartest man in the universe which seems to go with the job. (Believe me when I say I KNOW I’M NOT that smart. Not even close. Unfortunately, people in a congregation, every congregation, too often think the pastor is supposed to have all the answers to all the questions. You know, the problem solver.) In addition, when issues come up that can cause difficulties, challenges or create tension to a body of believers, I worry. It’s not easy for a confident, control freak, in charge kind of guy like me to let go. I’m suppose to have the answers, so I review all the possibilities and worry that I didn’t do enough.
It’s a big challenge to turn these things over to God. Does this mean we should not worry? As humans, I don’t think we have the capacity to not worry. It is how we respond to the situations that cause our worries that makes all the difference.
When we allow our worries to consume us, to overshadow all else, we are taken off the narrow path that Jesus wants us to walk following Him. Satan is eager to take such consuming worries to do his work. This can lead to anxiety and depression. It can cause us to make foolish decisions. It can drive a wedge between spouses, between people in a congregation and between us and God.
Or we can take those things that cause our worries to God in prayer. We can turn things in our lives over to Him. It takes practice and I’m still learning. I never seem to run out of opportunities to engage in a new lesson to learn.
Turning things over to God instead of fretting and worrying about them does not give us free license to do whatever we want. Turning over control means following our Lord Jesus, doing His will. And we have to do our part by preparation to head off such situations. God does help those who help themselves. Where we run into problems here is when we think we are helping God instead of the other way around, God guiding us to do the right things.
So, perhaps Alfred E. Newman only got it part right with his “What, me worry?” It’s how we handle worries when they occur that matters, along with leading lives that prevent those situations that cause worry.
So, if you’re worried about the expiration dates on the milk and eggs…make an omelet! For the significant worries in our lives, pray. Turn your life over and follow the Spirit’s guidance. Advice I will try to apply to myself.
And those are my thoughts.
God bless and have a good week.
Welcome to this week’s Blog from the Red Roof Church. My name is Lee Harder and I am the senior pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church of Bulverde, Texas. It is a joy to come to you each week with some thoughts about our culture and our faith walk with the Lord. We do that every Sunday, too, as we proclaim God’s Word from Scripture in our worship celebrations. I would like to invite you to join us this Sunday at 8:30AM for our traditional worship or at 10:45AM for our contemporary celebration. Either way, you won’t go wrong because it is Christ we worship.
This week I thought I would make a few comments on prosperity and how there are some elected persons and others who are of the opinion that a whole generation of people have NEVER experience prosperity in this nation of ours. REALLY?
Apparently, according to some folks here, there is a story going around on the internet from a millennial who is shocked by this incredible idea that her generation has never seen American prosperity. She couldn’t disagree more. She wrote, “We live in the most privileged time in the most prosperous nation and we have become completely blind to it.” Writing further she said, “Vehicles, food, technology, freedom to associate with whom we choose. These things are so ingrained in our American way of life we don't give them a second thought. We are so well off here in the United States that our poverty line begins 31 times above the global average. Thirty. One. Times. Virtually no one in the United States is considered poor by global standards. Yet, in a time where we can order a product off Amazon with one click and have it at our doorstep the next day, we are unappreciative, unsatisfied, and ungrateful.”
She wrote a lot more which I’m sure will not make points with a great many of her generation or those people in this nation that are constantly down playing and degrading the country as a whole. However, it’s her finish that we need to see as she provides her perspective on “WHY?” this has happened. Let me share it with my gratitude for her courage.
Why? The answer is this, "My generation has only seen prosperity. We have no contrast. We didn't live in the great depression, or live through two world wars, the Korean War, The Vietnam War, or see the rise and fall of socialism and communism. We don't know what it's like to live without the internet, without cars, without smartphones. We don't have a lack of prosperity problem. "We have an entitlement problem, an ungratefulness problem, and it's spreading like a plague."
Allow me to add one further, but vitally important point to what she has already said. We also have a God problem or rather the absence of God in our lives problem that is spreading as well. These young people who do not even know the meaning of words like suffering, humility and sacrifice because they are so full of themselves. Those are words that previous generations learned first hand. We learned them because they were a part of their faith relationship with God. We knew who the author of all that we have was, our heavenly Father. The God who suffered for the sins we committed, the God who humbled Himself and took on human flesh so He could show us the way to salvation, and the God who sacrificed Himself on the cross to pay the price of our sins, dying there and rising again three days later taught us the meaning of those words.
These persons, regardless of what generation or social group from which they ungratefully crawled, they are all about themselves and feel that God and a loving relationship with Him is unnecessary.
I call them narcissists. It reminds of a little rhyme I learned some years back. It goes, “I love myself. I think I’m grand and when I go to movies I hold my hand.” Our prosperity as a nation and as a people is a gift from a generous God. If we continue to persist in ignoring Him, casting Him out of our lives, and denying His presence and His generosity, these self-centered, spoiled persons will come to discover that He might feel we are in need of a different kind of entitlement problem, one that shows them they are NOT the center of the universe, theirs or anybody else's. God Is.
I wish there were more with the courage to speak out as she did. We need to hear their voices ring clearly. It gives me hope. And those are my thoughts.
Lee Harder here, senior pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church of Bulverde, the Red Roof Church, greeting you with some more thoughts to brighten your day, give you a chuckle, or make you think about your relationship with God. Before I get into this week’s blog, I want to invite you to join us for worship this and every Sunday at 8:30 or 10:45AM. We celebrate Christ and I assure you that our community of believers is one Where God’s Word Is Heard from the pages of Scripture and not the latest social trends.
If you have visited this blog last week you heard about my exploits in flying. Well, on a more serious note, all that flying and its mishaps came as a result of going to perform the marriage celebration of my oldest daughter, Dawn, and her now husband, Dan. It was a beautiful site for the wedding in the State Park near Two Harbors, Minnesota by the lake. The service was a little shorter than normal since there was not music (It seems no one wanted to haul an organ or piano down to the lake. Can’t understand why not.) However, pastor/dad still gave a sermon to remind all present that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman, but also between a loving couple and the God who cherishes and cares for them. As long as we live in that understanding, the bond of marriage will be a blessing.
This special day was also the chance to meet Dan’s parents and extended family. They are wonderful people. As it turns out, they might be responsible for getting me to read and record the stories that I made a part of a cookbook that I wrote a few years ago. It could be fun. It might also be a way to have our grandchildren get to know more about their grandparents. We’ll see.
Speaking of grandchildren, it was a joy to see some of the grandkids again. Its been a while. They’re growing so fast. In fact, at the end of this school year, three of them, Austin, Madison and Summer, will graduate from high school. I remember when they were small and would sit on Papa’s lap and I read to them or snuggled with them and fell asleep. They are young adults now, but it was nice to know they miss us, too, and were so happy that we came.
That’s the one draw back to our move to Texas from Minnesota. All the kids and grandkids are there and we are here. The apostle Paul was right when he said that having a family (getting marriage) means that either God is getting short changed or the family is. Grandma and I have missed a lot, which I say with a touch of sadness. The grandchildren have missed out, too, and they know it. Well, maybe not grandma or especially Papa saying things like “Do you really want to wear your hair that way.” or “When we were your age.” or “That’s not the way we did it.” You know the stuff I mean.
Mind you, I would not trade the people of St. Paul for any. God was very generous in giving me a call to these disciples of Christ. Actually, if I am to be honest, it was Karen they wanted to come down here and be a part of the congregation. I was just lucky enough that they were willing to have me tag along as their pastor.
Karen and I have been blessed many times over. There is the love we share, 48 years and still going strong, three beautiful kids and the families who miss us as we miss being with them, wonderful friends in many states, and a community of believers in St. Paul that God has given me the privilege to serve and guide in a loving relationship with our Lord. It doesn’t get any better than that. Still, there are things we missed.
My prayer and desire for my children and grandchildren is that they find a spiritual home that lifts them up in a relationship with the Lord. I can’t be there as their pastor and saying that the preachers they have heard are, “Well, they’re not like you, Dad or Papa.” sounds nice, but it’s not enough. They need to grow in their own journey with Christ. I love them all dearly and want only the best for them. I look forward to the day I can see them again. Until then, I will serve the Lord to the best of my ability with the gifts He has given and pray that He watches over my families — all of them.
God bless and have a great week. Make a special moment with your kids or grandkids soon.
Greetings from Bulverde, Texas and the wonderful folks at the Red Roof Church. I’m Lee Harder the senior pastor at St. Paul wishing you God’s blessings this weekend and in the week ahead. If you’re in our neighborhood on 281 north of San Antonio this Sunday, I invite you to join us for worship at either 8:30 or 10:45AM. I promise, this is a fellowship of believers “Where God’s Word Is Heard” every week. We’ll be looking for you.
I have to apologize for not having a Vlog last week, but I had a good excuse. I was in Minnesota performing the marriage celebration of our oldest daughter and her new husband, Dan Jones. Besides the wedding, we got to visit with the grandchildren. When one adds the wonderfully cool weather, it was a great weekend. We flew up Thursday and returned on Monday and that’s the problem, we flew.
Since we don’t travel much or take the vacation time I should and fly even less, I got talked into bumping our tickets to first class. It was only $280.00 per person. I mention that not to impress, but to validate what I feel is an excessive amount for what was provided and experienced. I will explain.
First, I have flown only four times in my life, the first being a trip from Minneapolis to Albuquerque in 2008. At that time we had planned to fly coach (you know, sardines in a can), but my youngest brother surprised us by moving us to first class. It was great. We were separated from the peasant class (where we would have been) by a curtain. They served wine even before we got off the ground. Admittedly, it was in plastic cups, but that switched to real glass when we were airborne. The seats were roomy, big and even reclined, really reclined. The food wasn’t bad either. All was good in the world, until we returned in economy uncomfortably stuffed in the sardine can with no room for legs, shoulder hanging out in the aisle, and no booze or food, small pretzels only.
The next two times we flew, it was in economy plus some years later and I truly believe the airlines had miraculously achieved even less leg room & more of my shoulder into the aisle. I know the sardines had infinitely more room. The pretzels were the same and the cost of tickets had risen.
Well, this time I’m at a better pay scale and since we don’t travel, Karen, friends at church, everyone was urging me to go first class. So I did, both ways. The seats were a bit more roomy, kind of like the seats we had in economy years ago before they shrunk. No booze, but we did take the 6:00 AM flight and alcohol for breakfast just isn’t my idea of how to start the day with a hearty breakfast. Breakfast is where my issues begin. Remember, we paid $280.00 EXTRA for the first class amenities. After the moist, warm hand towel to cleanse the hands, we were served breakfast. It consisted of one small oblong bowl of corn Chex, a carton of 2% milk, one small blueberry yogurt, a cup of sliced, under ripe fruit (melon, pineapple, a few grapes and a strawberry) & a semi-frozen croissant with a pad of butter and some jam. On the return flight, it was Cheerios instead of Chex, but otherwise the same.
I realize this might sound like I’m whining, but $280.00 a head is a lot of money for me. However, I would have paid twice that for a real restroom.
Up to Thursday’s flight, I have never, no not ever, used a restroom in an airplane. I have always been able to go the distance. Unfortunately, I am older now inconvenienced by the normal challenges men my age face. I have to go more often. Add to that I take three, yes, three, three, three pills not one that are diuretics every day which controls my edema but does require that I pay more frequent homage to the porcelain deities available. So, half way to Minneapolis, I had to go.
Nobody warned me what to expect. The use of the word small is a crime against the English language when referencing an airplane restroom. This restroom was way past small to border on minuscule, microscopic, wee, and tiny. Yet, people used it, so I thought I could too. Big mistake. First, one does not go standing like a man normally goes. It’s impossible. I know, I tried. There’s no room for your feet (I have a size 15 shoe & the space in this closet, a reference which is casting an affront to closets everywhere, is only big enough for a much smaller, daintier foot). Because I was wearing jogging pants (I don’t jog, they’re just comfortable), I had to lower them to my ankles to go. I tried to kneel over the space provided, the bowl, but I couldn’t because I’m too tall and the ceiling is curved. I’m just too much of me, period. The result is I wet my pants, thoroughly. Then, to get my damp pants up, I ended up opening the door slightly, accidently I assure you, to offer a half-moon to those in first class interested in looking.
When I got to my seat, Karen tried to act as if she didn’t know me. After a few moments, I mentioned to her that if the need arose that I should require the use of the fore mentioned cubical again before the completion of the flight, I would just pee where I was at. Fortunately, I didn’t have that need. I love flying (sarcasm). There’s something special about paying $280.00 to have breakfast cereal & wetting myself as the memorable treasures of flying first class.
On the return flight, I did not take my meds & did not need the use of the cubicle falsely labeled “restroom” despite a one hour delay in getting off at Minneapolis.
I never want to fly again. I was informed that I need to make sure the plane I take is a full sized plane and not the puddle jumper we ended up on. Who knew? So, maybe, possibly, I would reconsider, but I’ll have to think real hard on it.
In the mean time, it was a good visit and our girls (our two golden retrievers were fine, wildly glad to have mom and dad back home) and did great thanks to our house sitter, Kyle. I hope my story has given you a chuckle and revealed that pastors are just like everybody else. We have our days, too.
God bless and talk to you again soon.
Greetings from the disciples of Christ at the Red Roof Church of Bulverde, Texas. I’m Lee Harder, the senior pastor, and would very much like to invite you to join us for worship this Sunday. We gather in God’s house at 8:30AM and 10:45AM to hear His Word proclaimed from Scripture and we would like to have you share it with us.
I had the occasion to visit with a former classmate of mine from the seminary days of 40 years ago. He has retired and enjoys the good life out west. As we shared war stories from the seminary and our respective years in the ministry as pastors, we began to realize that I might be the last from our graduating class at Northwestern Theological Seminary still active as a pastor.
When we had our first class reunion 5 years after our graduation, out of a class of 33, 11 had already left the ministry. As of a dozen years ago, there were only a handful still serving congregations. The shortage of pastors serving churches is becoming alarming. Too few pastors for too many churches, especially smaller ones.
I was one of the founders, former president and instructor at the Beyond the River Academy, where pastors train pastors through an online instruction in basics that will equip someone who feels called by God to serve in a congregation as pastor. Those entering the program do so usually after having ended a career and feel a need to serve as a pastor because the Spirit is moving them in that direction. Because they are often financially sound, they are willing to go to smaller congregations that cannot afford the full time, master of divinity pastor. What we provide are the tools that will help to preach a sermon, teach a Bible study, visit with someone sick or dying, and marry, bury or baptize. Still, there are not enough to meet the growing need.
As the baby boomer pastors retire, it’s going to get worse. Added to that is a growing trend among younger clergy. Many younger clergy are “giving it up for Lent,” so to speak after just five years. Some who are leaving the ministry are finding the debt crushing. Church attendance, and therefore giving, is at 1920’s levels. Full-time calls at wages that will put food on the table and pay for seminary debt are disappearing. Health insurance costs keep rising. The business sector promises stability that the church can’t offer anymore. And some are leaving because they’re getting eaten up, and life is just too short to put up with that for too long. We follow a Jesus who said that we’re to give our life away, but not in the way that disregards life itself.
Couple this with the fact that seminary enrollment is at unsustainable lows and it’s not surprising that there are fewer pastors to serve churches. Oh, and don’t forget the non-denominational churches springing up all over that provide exciting, high energy worship programs that light up the auditorium with glitz and glamour to the beat of the latest rock and gospel sound. Plug in the motivational speaker who makes those attending feel good all over in a politically correct way, it’s tough to be content with a traditional pastoral role.
I’m happy where I’m at and doing what I do. Retire, I don’t think so, at least not yet. I may be the last in my class, but that suits me just fine. God has called me to be a pastor, to preach and teach His Word to His people. That’s enough to keep me content to serve Him. Sure, there are days when it gets terribly frustrating. God’s people of every time can be difficult. They always have been and likely always will be. Quit? Not happening! I’m going to do precisely what our Lord has called me to do for as long as I have breath and the people in this congregation (or some other in the future should they tire of me here) are willing to put up with me. I’m having too much fun most of the time and love rising to a challenge the rest of it.
I wish others would see both the need to serve (key word) and the joy of serving (that’s an important one too). The church needs men and women who love Christ and are willing to shoulder His cross in the face of all adversity. Besides, I get paid for being a Christian. How can one beat that? Am I blessed or what?
And those are my thoughts. Have a great week. God bless. Pastor Lee
Pastor Lee R. Harder