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
Greetings from the great folks at the Red Roof Church in Bulverde, Texas. I’m Lee Harder, the senior pastor, inviting you to join us for worship this Sunday at 8:30 or 10:45AM for a celebration of God’s Word. When one considers all the mixed messages out there today, St. Paul is a church Where God’s Word is Heard from Scripture every week and not a social agenda. That is a good thing to count on. Check us out on our web page at redroofchurch.org and then come by for worship, fellowship and the joy of life in Christ.
Paul wrote in his letter to the church in the city of Rome, Romans 12:2 to be exact, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Yet, I am constantly aware how we Christians like to make Christ over into our own image rather than trying to make the world conform to the will of God. In the past, we made Jesus a warrior when we sent the crusaders marching to the Holy Land to take back Jerusalem and crush the Muslims. 500 years later, we made Jesus someone to be scared of so we couldn’t come to Him in prayer but had to go through the saints with a small nominal fee, of course.
Today, many in the Christian church want Jesus to be this great guy who is only about love and niceness where everybody is saved. Mind you, that’s not the Jesus of Scripture and never was. Too many want to replace the unchanging Jesus of the Bible with a do-it-yourself-deity who is made and unmade according to our own specifications.
Here’s the latest attempt and this one is by a whole denomination. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America or ELCA has opted for another socially designed, politically correct, decision at their annual national gathering this year in Milwaukee. With the vote of about 700 people, representing about 3.4 million ELCA Lutherans, they decided that the ELCA would be a “sanctuary church” protecting the rights of migrant children and families. While they use the word “migrants” what they really mean is illegal immigrants coming into this country contrary to all our laws and national sovereignty. They perceive the arrest, detainment and deportation of such persons as unfair and unjust. In their eyes, the laws enforced by immigration agencies seeking to maintain our national sovereignty and security for the purpose of keeping us safe don’t matter. What that all means, I don’t know, and I suspect neither do they understand the ramifications of their vote based on the progressive agenda of a liberal leadership. Yet, these few voted for a whole church body that likely is not all in agreement with their stand.
Remember, this is the same Christian denomination that has considered the Old Testament to be a work of fiction, stories for Sunday school children; quietly but effectively stopped talking about sin or our need for repentance because it makes people feel sad and uncomfortable; and embraced with several other Christian bodies the universal salvation mentality that everybody is going to heaven because a loving God wouldn’t condemn anyone to hell. Besides, there really isn’t a devil anyway.
Look, I don’t want people to suffer who need food, medical attention, and the like. At the same time, I don’t believe we should allow people to flood into our nation illegally, especially when there are so many who seek to do it legally through proper channels.
A church that seeks to help those in need, I applaud. We should because it is what Jesus did and it’s the right thing to do. However, a church that stands in direct opposition to civil law because it doesn’t fit the politically correct image supported by some in a position of power and leadership is wrong. In the process, the condemnation of people who are doing their best in a difficult situation to help in a humane way people in need while maintaining order and safety for a nation is not commendable. It’s wrong and I suspect there will be many within its congregations across the nation that will agree.
In the days of Jesus, Israel’s religious leaders, the Pharisees, Scribes and Sadducees, did the same kind of things. They heaped upon the people rules and regulations, made decisions, that they decided were necessary which only satisfied their desires, while they put themselves above the need to be subject to them. Funny how the same problems of the past keep reappearing again and again. We sure are slow learners, failing to learn from our history. Maybe some day.
And those are my thoughts. God bless,
Greetings from the folks at the Red Roof Church in Bulverde, Texas. I’m Lee Harder, the senior pastor at St. Paul inviting you to come for a visit with us this Sunday for worship at 8:30AM or 10:45AM. If you can’t make it, why not visit our web page at redroofchurch.org and watch the broadcast of our worship celebrations there.
I want to share a concern with you that might be nothing more than creating a mountain out of a mole hill. Still, it causes me to worry about where we’re going culturally with regards to our precious independence. Let me explain.
I prepare a Bible study for three classes of people every Thursday. I prepare a sermon based on designated Scripture lessons each week at the very least. While I could go to “boxed” and “prepared” materials for these things, which many do, I choose not to because I need to constantly challenge myself to learn and grow in my knowledge. In the same manner, I actually go to church Sunday morning at about 5:00AM and preach for a couple of hours to an empty church like it was worship. It lets me fine tune my sermon for the live delivery.
At home, Karen and I actually go grocery shopping every week after I have prepared a menu with all the ingredients needed carefully listed for purchase. When it comes time to prepare the meal I either refer to a recipe in a cookbook (I have many with many excellent and challenging culinary skills required that will please any palate) or resort to my own cooking skills. (While I can’t wear the white hat of a chef, I have the skills as testified by those who have feasted on my humble offerings.) Actually, it might be better if I didn’t cook so well from my doctor’s point of view with regards to my weight.
I mention this because I am seeing more and more people unwilling or unable to do for themselves. When we shop, I see multiple racks wheeling throughout the store as employees gather the food for people who can’t (understandable) or won’t (lazy?) for themselves. I see a growing number of ads on TV for services that will mail to consumers complete meals in a box and all the instructions (with pictures) on how to prepare (including cutting) the dish with the recommended serving sizes. Result, a growing number of people who simply can’t cook. I mean, when you have to explain how to boil water to an adult, there’s a problem.
There’s more as I now see a growing trend for cars that drive themselves. I’ve got no problem about warnings from mirrors about drifting in lanes or approaching cars, but I always thought that was the job of a careful, involved driver in driving. No, I’m talking about cars that drive, that park, and that stop because the driver is doing something other than what they should be doing — DRIVING. I fear as this trend continues we will create a whole culture of people who just can’t drive. I suppose that’s okay until the computer crashes or the power goes out. What then?
And let’s not forget the growing dependence on phones that keep track of everything to the point where people can’t seem to function without them. Worse, people are forgetting how to communicate without texting. What happened to people talking to one another — you know, communicating in the flesh.
I want to share my thoughts on this because I see our culture becoming more and more dependent on some one or some thing doing what we should be doing for ourselves. I see it in our culture. I see it in giving, accepting, or what’s really scary wanting “mother” government to run our lives and the lives of our children over the desires and morals of their parents. I see the same attitude expressed in the church. As a pastor, I am only too aware of the embraced ignorance on the part of Christians concerning the Word of God in the Bible and understanding what we believe according to that Word. A growing number would rather someone else do the work that Christ commanded of all of us or have someone (as long as we agree) to tell us what to believe.
What’s going to happen if our technology crashes? What will happen within the church if Christians surrender their responsibility to know God’s Word and fall prey to false teachers who embrace the world’s agenda over Christ’s? I fear we will have become so dependent on technology and letting the other guy do it that we will be incapable of functioning on our own. Don’t get me wrong. I love technology when I can understand it, but I still want to be in control. I have music and books stored in the “cloud.” I also have “hard” copies that I can touch, hold, and use on my terms my way — just in case the clouds suddenly aren’t there. It’s possible we might be losing an essential part of our humanity by surrendering our independence and personal freedom. One good thing though, I’m getting old and won’t have to put up with this trend indefinitely. Thank you Lord!
And those are my thoughts, as antiquated as they might be. God bless until next time.
Welcome to this week’s Blog from the Red Roof Church of Bulverde, Texas. I’m the senior pastor, Lee Harder, wishing you God’s blessings and joy. I would also like to invite you to visit us this Sunday for worship on our campus or via our church web page at redroofchurch.org We offer both our worship celebrations on a delayed broadcast by 2:00PM Sunday afternoon and, of course, any time following. If you are in the area, we worship at 8:30AM and 10:45AM. There’s always plenty going on along with good coffee and accompanying donuts of all sorts. Whatever draws you, I promise our worship is “Where God’s Word Is Heard” every week.
My blog this week is more whimsical than theological. If you watch TV, you know that for the past two weeks the National Geographic channel has been pushing “Shark Fest” with a host of programming focused on shark information. It’s kind of their answer to the famous and eagerly watched “Shark Week” on another channel. Then everyone knows that beginning this Sunday, July 28th, going all week the Discovery channel has its annual “Shark Week.”
I mention this because I am amused by the constant barrage of data and hypothesis as to why sharks attack human beings. There seems to be almost as many different reasons and attempts at explanation as there are varieties of sharks. Despite a plethora of possibilities to explain why there are shark attacks on people, they seem to conclude each proposed answer with “they’re not quite sure all the data supports their conclusion. We need to explore further.” I’m betting that the programing on Shark Week will come to the same inconclusive possibilities. Those who aren’t sure represent an army of researchers, scientists, and experts of every walk of life. They likely spend millions of dollars and utilize a bevy of grants to do their theorizing and speculation. More power to them.
However, I would like to propose a thought. I am not an expert, a research specialist, or a scientist knowledgeable in a shark brand of ichthyology. I am a lowly pastor. Yet, my theory, if believed and accepted as fact, will devastate the scientific world that devotes itself to the study of sharks, researching with painful detail all shark attacks around the world to find an answer to the question — WHY? It could dry up millions of dollars in research grants and funds resulting in untold numbers of brilliant people losing their jobs. But here goes.
When one goes into any ocean, gulf or sea you become food. By going into the water human beings are no longer on the top of the food chain — they are food. Like beef from a steer, pork from a pig or chicken from a chicken is to us human beings, we become part of the menu for sharks upon entering the water right up there with seals, sardines, whales and garbage. For this reason, I do not swim in seas, oceans or otherwise. I do not wish to be eaten.
It seems totally illogical to get upset, angry or overwhelmed by a shark attack that severely injures or kills a person in the water. They chose to be there in their world. Sharks do not kill, injure or eat people on land. Well, they do in Sharknado movies, but they are just silly. And they are not real. Hold that thought.
If you want to swim in the ocean, ski or kayak, surf or snorkel, remember, you are now food. While the odds are you will go unscathed, having a wonderful time, don’t complain if on that certain day your luck runs out and you find yourself the entrée at the shark’s table. If one enters their world, you become gluten free food. Your choice.
Bon Appetite! And those are my thoughts. God bless.
Welcome to our Red Roof Church Blog for this week. I’m Lee Harder, the senior pastor at St. Paul, and it is a joy to visit with you again. The folks at St. Paul would like to invite you to worship with us this Sunday at either 8:30 AM for our traditional celebration or at 10:45 AM for our contemporary worship. I can promise you that the Red Roof Church is a place Where God’s Word Is Heard every week. It just might be the spiritual home you’ve been looking for. Join us.
This week in our regular Thursday Bible Study classes (3 classes every Thursday at 8:00 & 10:00 AM and at 6:30 PM so anyone can fit it in their schedule to attend) as we explored the pressures the world is applying to our Christian faith, I was asked rather directly, “With all the trouble the church is dealing with, why do you do what you do, pastor?”
An interesting question, to say the least. It caused me to pause and think before responding. Why do I do what I do as I have been for the last 40 years as a pastor. Why to I continue to preach sermons, week after week, month after month, year after year even when I know the message is not being taken to heart with the frequency I would cherish? Why do I research, write, prepare & teach Bible study classes for the youth, for the adults, for new people to the church, and more on a regular basis? I answered slowly because there was no singular reason.
First, it is because I feel called by God to serve as a pastor with gifts, talents and abilities, He has provided for me to do so. But even more important is the fact I love the Lord and if this is His plan for my life I will accept His will. Second, I suppose I do it and have done it because it’s a living. While I have never gotten rich and don’t expect to start now, I have always been content because God has provided.
Third, and this can sometimes be a challenge. I love the people of this congregation that I serve as pastor. Even those who can be occasionally difficult (I can be too), are loved by me. Why? Because I want them to know the love of Christ and be able to spend eternity in heaven. So I preach God’s Word and I teach His Word to the best of my ability. I believe Scripture and I am passionate about sharing it.
My continual prayer is that God will allow me many more years of doing these very same things. After 40 years of preaching an untold number of sermons in the thousands and writing my own educational materials for all learning levels and then teaching that material in many more thousands of lessons and classes, I still love what I do.
It is that love that makes me unwilling to dilute His Word or compromise it in any way. When I am preparing for a sermon, any sermon, every sermon, I try to make sure I remain true to God’s intent and deliver a message that expresses the truth from the heart of Scripture. I know not everyone appreciates that since God’s Word can be tough. However, I love those He has given me to minister to, so I’m going to do the best I can with the gifts He has blessed me with to serve Him.
I’m the luckiest guy I know (even if there are those challenging days) because I get paid to do the work of a Christian pastor. I work with great people who are also dedicated to His service out of their love for the Lord. What’s not to love about my job, my career, my vocation?
And those are my thoughts and now you know more about me than maybe you wanted to know. Talk to you next week.
Pastor Lee R. Harder