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.
Pastor Lee R. Harder