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.
Pastor Lee R. Harder