After: Living the Resurrection

The Easter holiday is gone by, we celebrated it in a strange and different way this year. But still Jesus is risen and we shout hallelujah! But now that the day is over, and we are back to semi-normal lives, were does that leaves us? Now that we have celebrated the resurrection of Jesus, we have to decide what to do with it in our lives.

It was the same for Jesus’ followers as well. What would they do after the arrest, trial and crucifixion of Jesus? What would they do now with the news of the empty tomb spreading among them? They all had differing expectations of who Jesus was and how his life would play out with them in it. Even after Jesus told them what would happen, they did not expect this. Like us, they all had to decide what to do with the narrative of Easter.

I want to look specifically at Judas and Peter. Both were Jesus disciples, both betrayed him, yet Bothe responded on different ways. one of the things we learn from both Peter and Judas is this: Jesus knows we will let him down sometimes, He still brings us with Him.

Jesus knows we will let him down sometimes,

He still brings us with Him.

Let’s start with Judas.

Judas betrayal began long before his secret meeting with the Pharisees. Let me say this, I believe Judas loved Jesus. When he began following him, he believed in him, believed he was the Messiah, at least what Judas expected the Messiah to be.

When it was clear that Jesus did not come to establish an earthly kingdom, when Judas expectations were shattered, and he had no problem stealing from Jesus

And then when it became clear that Jesus wasn’t going to meet any of those expectations the relationship shifted – Judas had moved from loving Jesus, to try to benefit from him, to having no use for him at all. In the end he didn’t even make a demand for the payment he received, he simply asked ‘what will you give me?”

Judas betrayal shows us that even the closest followers of Jesus can fall over time.

Then there’s Peter.

Peter was the rock. He was outspoken, loyal and had a bit of a temper. The last one that we think would betray Jesu. “Even all fall way on account of you, I never will (Matt. 26:33)” He remain loyal even to the moment of Jesus arrest, cutting off a man’s ear when they came to arrest Jesus.

So when Jesus tells Peter that he would openly deny that he knew Jesus, not once, but three times, Peter was astonished. After all he was Peter, the rock.

Peter never intended to betray Jesus, but he let fear rule his heart in the moment. Peter doesn’t want to be arrested too, fear overpowers him and causes the rock to turn to sand.

Peter shows us that even the strongest of believers can waiver in fear and doubt, and fail.

Judas like Peter, walked with Jesus. Like Peter he saw the miracles, experienced the teachings and saw amazing things happen. Peter failed in the moment and denied Jesus. Judas failed in his walk with Jesus and betrayed him unto death.

We like it when the villain gets what he deserves, which is why we often don’t shed a tear when we read how Judas died. But by doing so, we miss an important chance to learn from his life.

Judas, like Peter, walked with Jesus. Like Peter he saw the miracles, and experienced the teachings. Peter failed in the moment and denied Jesus. Judas failed in his walk with Jesus and betrayed him unto death.

Both made mistakes, but Peter was restored, and Judas died a horrific death.

Peter never let his heart grow cold to Jesus. His denial was out of fear. Judas had let his heart harden towards Jesus, a betrayal driven by greed and bitterness.

When Judas betrays Jesus (Matt. 26:49), he greets him as Rabbi. Not Lord, not even Jesus, just rabbi. Judas had reduced Jesus to being a mere teacher, a good man.

But when we find Peter in the same moment he shouts “Lord, shall we strike with the sword? (Luke 22:49) and he does. He calls Jesus Lord in the moment of Judas’ betrayal, Jesus is still Lord to Peter.

And then we find Jesus and Peter, sitting on the shores of the Sea of Galilee (John 21:15). Jesus asks Peter if he loves him, and Peter responds “Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus is still Lord to Peter.

We all have our own expectations of Jesus. Sometimes (oftentimes), they don’t match up with who he is, or what is best for us. We get frustrated, we doubt, we have fear.

If we let our doubts, frustrations, fears, and pursuit of earthly things cloud our judgment, we can begin to deny the reality of who Jesus is.

Each us need to choose what to do with the new of Jesus’ resurrection. Will we Jesus as just a good teacher and discount the glory of his resurrection. Or will we see Jesus as the glorified Christ, risen and ready to welcome you with open arms.

Jesus was still Lord to Peter, and Jesus is still Lord today.

 

 

 

Knock-Knock. Who’s There?

With it being Holy Week, Christian’s world wide are preparing their hearts for communion, and getting ready to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. In this time of isolation and uncertainty there has never been a more poignant Easter celebration in my lifetime.

I have been reflecting on my salvation, what it looks like to love and follow Jesus, trying to find a way to minister to those in need, and even trying to reconcile myself as a pastor who can’t see his church. Knock-knock.

For the past two weeks, sleep has evaded me. And when it comes, it’s erratic and fleeting. But I wake up everyday with the energy, if not the usual enthusiasm, to face the day. It’s not fear that keeps me awake. It’s not worry that wakes me up at 3am. Knock-knock.

I have never been a great sleeper, but this is far beyond what I normally experience. There is more to my sleeplessness than a racing mind and contemplation. Knock-knock.

God has been knocking on my heart every night. Stirring me to prayer for my family, my church and the world. God is asking to come into my home (my heart) daily to commune with me, and for me to rest in his presence.

Revelation 3:20 NLT

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”

So many times this passage is used as part of a salvation invitation, and yes, Jesus is kicking on your hearts door, and yes he wants nothing more than for his children to come home. But we must remember, this passage was not written to unbelievers, but to the church in Laodicea. It’s an invitation to the church to open their hearts and commune with God.

So why does God knock?

For most of us right now, our lives are turned upside down. We are working at home. Our kids are having school at home. Right now, I am having trouble typing because our cat Luke keeps laying on my keyboard. Life has filled up with new routines, new distractions and new fears.  God knows that our human heart is easily distracted and that the busyness of our everyday can make this time with God (the most important part of our day) seem like a distraction in itself. I can’t help but think of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42).

Luke 10:41-42 NLT

But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Martha invited him in to her home (heart), but was to busy to enjoy what really matters, Jesus’ presence. Mary had discovered it, taking the time to sit at Jesus’ feet. We have to create the space in our lives, no matter what else is going on around us, to let God not only commune with us, but to act as well.

Philip Yancey wrote,

“God, who mad space in the most literal sense in the universe, needs us to protect a God-space, to prevent our lives from filling up with other things” (Yancey, Zondervan, 2006)

While we shelter in place, we must remember to shelter with Jesus.

Why does this “God-space” matter so much to God. Why would the creator of the universe and author of life knock on our hearts, desire to commune with us – the creation – broken, fractured and misguided. Simply put, because we matter in ways to God that we will never fathom.

Easter is here, it should serve as a reminder of how much you matter to God. That he sent his son, Jesus, to die for your sins, and resurrected him in glory to redeem your life to him. That is how much you matter.

It’s God’s invitation, but we must answer the door.

Knock-knock.

Self-Care in the Time of Corona

This week is Masters Week. The week the golfing world descends on Augusta National Golf Club to witness the most captivating and beloved golf tournament of the year. Even if you don’t like golf, or watch golf, chances are you just might sneak a peek at a television broadcast this week. Magnolia Lane. The azaleas. Ray’s Creek. Amen Corner. Pimento cheese sandwiches. All the things that make The Masters experience what it is…the greatest week in golf.

But in 2020, amidst COVID-19, amidst stay at home orders…golf has been ruled non-essential. I’ve been home for three weeks now, working and trying to keep the walls from closing in on me. This week, honestly, is a kick in the gut. Masters week is a celebration in our home, we all partake. But this year, it’s a teardrop in the middle of an ocean of tears.

Five weeks ago, we lost our cat, Mags. Mags had been with me for going on 14 years. Than the social distancing order came. Than in the middle of The Players tournament (another Goedert household favorite), the announcement that The Masters would be postponed came. Than baseball opening day was gone. All these things are family favorites and traditions…gone. It started to feel like there was no time to recover from the body shots. Yesterday, was rough. A lot of shouting matches with the kid, irritability, and just feeling like an absolute failure at life, parenting, and ready to sleep through the rest of this pandemic.

As I was praying this morning, admittedly feeling sorry for myself, God directed me to the book of John. This is what I read:

John 10:10 NLT

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.”

Satan doesn’t just want to destroy us spiritually, but wants to take away the love we have for our everyday lives as well. Satan wants to take away joy, love, togetherness and make you feel alone and hopeless. We know this. I know this. But it is still easy to let everything in life, especially right now, drag you down and rob the light and hope from your life.

Self-care, or self-love right now means letting Jesus bring life into your life, even where things may seem dead, to let the fullness of who Jesus is to us, guide us to find ways to life life to our fullest. That means letting the creative spark God placed in you take new root and start new growth.

I have decided to make our home a fortress of hope and love. We will not let the darkness of the current state of the world dim our light. We will love, we will hug each other, we will laugh and make memories. We will remain strong in the love of God and the hope that Jesus has given us. As my son reminded me the other day, “Goederts don’t give up.” We will live life to it’s fullest.

It’s Masters week. Today, we will watch the Arnie documentary on Golf Channel while enjoying some of his signature tea and lemonade. Tomorrow, we will watch The Greatest Game Ever Played, one of my favorite golf movies. Wednesday, we will play Tiger Woods Golf: The Masters and have a par 3 tournament, Thursday – Sunday, my son and and I will start a four round video game version of The Masters. Sunday, we will watch last years final round, enjoying pimento cheese sandwiches, chips and Azaeleas.

Make the decision for yourself, for your family, that we will all take time for the life-giving things that we can still do. Breath love, hope into your home, your children, and your spouse.

We have but two choices: we can allow the overwhelming state of the world invade our hearts and homes, or we can choose to infuse our lives, and those around us with hope, love and life.

Don’t let the thief steal your joy, kill your hope, and destroy your love. Instead, let Jesus give life to your joy, and make full your hope and love.

This week will be one of life and smiles, after all, it’s Masters week.

 

 

Responding in Hope

A world on fire. Massively divisive political posturing. Constantly eroding moral ground. And on top of it all a viral pandemic is sweeping the globe. There is no shortage of blame, no shortage of fear, and no shortage of greed. The world is on fire.

Our broken world is subject to disease, violence, hunger and oppression. Ever since Adam & Eve made their choice in the Garden, those effects have played out in individuals lives, humanity and all of creation. Romans 8:21 (NIV) tells us that all of creation is in “bondage to decay.” Suffering it would seem, is as natural in this world as breathing. Yet, hope remains.

John 16:33  (NLT)

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

As believers our hope is in God, in the future he has planned and promised us. But that hope needs to work it’s way into our everyday present lives as well. We have a responsibility, as those who hold the hope and light in an ever darkening world, to hold our torches high and let that light burn brightly as a beacon for all to see. Our response to situations that are ripe with fear should not be based on what if’s and what could be, but on who God is and what he has promised to us.

Our response to suffering and adversity should look like this.

  • Realize God’s grace is enough

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)

“Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”

Our natural response to the unknown is to fear it, dread it, and to try and do everything to hold it at bay. It is in our weakness that God’s power is most evident in our lives.

  • Know that God is there to listen and respond to us.

Psalm 9:9-10  (NLT)

“The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed,
a refuge in times of trouble.
Those who know your name trust in you,
for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.”

God may already know your fears, your anxieties… share them with him anyway. He is your place of shelter, protection, and safety. The world may be in chaos, but our Heavenly Father is steady. While we shelter in place, don’t forget to shelter in God.

  • God has given us help, so that we may help others.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NLT)

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”

Holding on to hope is selfish. We are dealers of hope. What we have received, we are meant to share. Check in on your neighbors, your family, your co-workers – use your phone and talk to people. Be light, be the hope, be the church.

Do we face uncertainty right now? Yes. Is everything changing faster than we can cope. Yes. Does fear have to rule our hearts and direct our lives? No.

Be wise, be safe, be smart, yes, be all of those things. We may have to practice social distancing, but we have an opportunity to practice spiritual closeness with God.

I leave you with this.

Psalm 34:4 (NLT)

I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.

    He freed me from all my fears.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gift We Need

The Gift We Need is a short story by Pastor Paul Goedert

It was a time like no other. Christmas. I was nine years old and the magic was still very real to me.  Santa, reindeer, chimneys and everything that goes with it. December was a month filled with family, love, joy, and presents.

OH THE PRESENTS! It seemed like Santa knew not just the things I had asked him for, but all of my secret desires for toys, games and candies! I believed, I wanted, and I got. Christmas was a time of receiving for me. But all of that changed the summer after I turned nine.

My Father was a very important man in our city. He served on the city council, was General Manager of our local bank, and he also taught Bible study at our church. But none of that mattered that summer.

Just like every other July my family went camping over the 4th of July. This year we camped at a state park that we had never been to before. We had a great time, spent nights around the campfire, except for the night that my Dad took us out on Lake Michigan in a boat to watch the fireworks from offshore. It was the best!

A few days after our return my Dad stayed home from work, he told us he had a nasty summer cold, he just needed rest. By the end of the week he was in the hospital, by the end of the month he was gone. The doctor’s told my Mother and older siblings what happened, I couldn’t make any sense of it. All I knew was that he was gone.

School started and things were tough. I missed him terribly, and it showed in my behavior and academics. If I could fight over it, I did. Many days I returned home from school with cuts, scrapes or a fresh black eye. I made sure the other kids did too.

Halloween came, I was uninterested. Thanksgiving came, I didn’t care. But December was approaching, and although I missed my Dad, the thought of all the lights, snow, and Christmas magic gave me a little hope.

Things weren’t just tough for me, my Mother had gone back to work to try and keep us afloat. My Dad’s life insurance had paid off the house, the car and had kept us able to survive for few months. Even I began to notice that things were changing, and not in a good way. Mom’s great meals were being replaced by frozen dinners and fast food. Trips to the movies or the mall got fewer and far between. I could feel the pinch, even as a nine year old boy.

After Thanksgiving my Mom sat me down, told me she needed to tell me something. She began to tell me about how tight our finances were, that we were spending most of what she was making on electricity, heat and groceries. She told me that Christmas would be different this year. She broke it to me that Santa wasn’t real, and that all those gifts had come from my parents. I was devastated, she cried with me. No Christmas this year.

My new reality hurt, and my Mom was trying to make things better. That Sunday we went to church for the first time since my Dad’s funeral. Except it wasn’t our church, we went to the little church down the street from our home, not the church I had always been in, my Mom called it a fresh start, whatever that means.

In our kids lesson that day we learned about Jesus being God’s gift to us. All I could think of was the gifts I wasn’t going to get that year. I knew my Mom would try, but I knew it would fall short of what I had in the past.

Than the hammer fell. Our furnace died two weeks before Christmas, during a record setting cold snap. The last of my Dad’s insurance money and part of what my Mom had saved went to pay for a new furnace. There went Christmas, although my Mom jokingly added that Christmas can’t be fun if you freeze.

Christmas Eve came, the meal was small and unsatisfying. My Mom explained there simply wasn’t enough to splurge on a big meal. The answer left me as empty as the meal. I yelled that I wish Dad was still here,  that he could fix anything, that we would’t be in this mess and Christmas wouldn’t have been ruined if he was alive. As I stomped off to my room for the night, I was the first of what I now know to be many tears that fell from her eyes that night.

My body woke me up at 6am, just like every other Christmas morning. I almost jumped out of bed to run downstairs. But reality flooded back to me and I rolled over. A good three hours later, I finally got out of bed and went down to have whatever breakfast I could find.

To my delight, there was a breakfast of thick french toast, bacon, eggs and strawberries put out for us. My brother who had arrived late had stopped and brought some groceries for us to celebrate. I ate the food hungrily and thought that maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all. Than I walked into the living room. Disappointment swept over me.

Under the tree, instead of wrapped presents, there were cans of vegetables, fruit, boxes of baking mix, and even some spaghetti noodles. I didn’t understand. My Mom was sitting in my Dad’s chair and she smiled at me, wished me a Merry Christmas, and asked me to sit with her. I sullenly complied.

My Mom opened her Bible and began to read the Christmas story from Luke to me. As I listened, it felt like every Christmas before. This was a tradition and I felt normal for the first time in months. When she finished, she handed me a small wrapped box. It was the only wrapped gift I received that year from her. She looked at me and said “I hope you like it, I know its your favorite.”

I tore into the box, and quickly confusion set in. It wasn’t a toy, a video game, or candy. It was a box of corn muffin mix. Jiffy corn muffin mix to be exact. She was right, it was my favorite, we always had it with chili, fried chicken, and with whatever I could convince my Mom to make it with. I loved corn muffins. But it wasn’t what I wanted.

My Mom looked down and saw my confusion, but she didn’t shed a tear, she simply said “Sometimes the gifts we want, aren’t the gifts we need. I know you want toys, and sports equipment and candy. But right now those are only wants. This box of corn muffin mix is something you need. Not just the food, but the memories, the goodness, the positive feelings that go along with it. I wanted to give you something you needed this Christmas.”

“All of these cans and boxes under the tree, these are my gifts to you this year. Just like God gave us Jesus, to show us love and light, to bring us hope. That is why all this is under the tree. What we need is always greater than what we want.”

I looked around, what I had discounted before became clear to me now. These just weren’t cans of vegetables and fruit. There were cans of sweet corn and green beans, my favorite vegetables. I saw peaches and pears! My favorite cereal was there too, as well as my favorite meal, spaghetti! My Mom had gotten me all of my favorite foods for Christmas. I looked at her with a new understanding.

That Christmas I learned something, it’s not the gift we want that brings us joy or peace or even love. It’s the gift we need. With this new understanding of Christmas and God, I soon gave my life to Jesus. All because of that box of corn muffin mix.

Every Christmas after that, even now as I have children of my own, there is one small box for each. There are still toys, game, and candy. But one box for each gets opened before all the rest, that box is always corn muffin mix. To remind us of the gift we need, family, love, hope, the gift of Jesus.

Use It or Lose It – October 2017

This October in GL First Kids we are talking about stewardship and all the ways we can take care of what we have, and why. It starts with everything beginning to God, and we are working with the kids on learning how they can use their time, things and money wisely. We will tying it all together by focus our last week on the importance of living our life focused on what really matters.

The other big news this month is the launch of our GL First Kid’s small groups at 9am on Sundays. We have three groups broken up by grade; K-1st, 2nd-3rd, and 4th-5th. The small groups will be reinforcing and introducing the concepts that we are teaching in the 11am GL First Kids church service. Make sure you check out whats happening!

Bible Story: Matthew 25:14-30
Memory Verse: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.” Luke 16:10a, NIV
Life App: Stewardship: taking care of what you have because it all belongs to God.
Basic Truth: I need to make the wise choice.

As a cook who has worked in restaurants it can get very boring. People for the most part order the same dishes over and over. There is very little change in your job. I love cooking when I can create my own flavors and dishes. That is exciting, making 27 grilled cheese sandwiches in a day, not so much. That’s why I love watching the show Chopped.

The excitement of not knowing what’s in that basket is one of the best parts. But the very best part is finding out how those crazy ingredients are going to go together, and if it is actually going to taste good.

In our story this week a wealthy man went away on a journey. He gave instructions to his three most trusted servants . In the story Jesus says that the man gave one servant five talents, the second one two talents, and the third servant one talent.

Now a talent is a unit of money, like a dollar or a quarter, except that for a common worker in that time a talent was like 20 years of wages. So all three servants were actually given a large amount of money, even the servant who received only one talent. The two faithful servants doubled their masters investment, while the other dug a hole and buried it.

Now “talents” are a metaphor for the abilities and gifts that God has given each and everyone of us. So of us have received many gifts, some it may seem we have received just a few. But all of them have great value, and we have all received gifts from God. Here is what we can learn from the two faithful servants.

You have to learn that you have to…

FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU HAVE

Before the two servants could do anything, they had to figure out what their master had given them.

We have to do the same thing, God has given each of you a unique talent, gift or passion. The best thing that we can do is to figure out exactly what we have right now.

Some of you are gifted creatively, you sing, dance, play an instrument, maybe you paint or draw. Some others of you have been given practical gifts, you could be mechanically or technologically gifted. All of us have traits in our personalities that are a gift. Maybe your compassionate, a great listener, or the best, maybe you can make people laugh. The ability to bring a smile to someones face is one of the greatest gifts.

After you figure out what you have, you have to…

FIGURE OUT HOW YOU CAN USE IT

The two faithful servants invested the money their master gave them, and each doubled the amount they started with.

They knew what their master had given them was something of great value, he had given them something that had been his.

In the story of our lives, God is the master, and He has given each of us something born of who he is. Creativity, compassion, complex thinking, love and even humor. All of these things and more make up who God is. His gift is not just a talent or ability, it’s a spark of His very own life.

Even if it only feels like a little gift, we are still supposed to do something with what God has given us. Burying it in a hole and never using it is not good enough. Keeping our gifts and talents inside the church is also not acceptable.

Let’s talk about the third servant, he did nothing with what the master gave him. And as a result the master took his talent from him, and gave it to the servant who did the most with what he had been given.

You have lots of hopes and dreams for your future. But a has as you try to plan every detail of your life – you can’t. But what you can do is make sure you are taking care of what God has given you. That means doing the best with what you have.

Respect Your Leaders

Bible Story: 1 Samuel 24 – David spares Saul

Bottom Line: You respect God when you respect the people He’s put in charge.

Memory Verse: “Show proper respect to everyone.” 1 Peter 2:17a, NIV

Life App: Respect—showing others they are important by what you say and do.

Basic Truth: I can trust God no matter what.

We wrapped up our month talking about respect this week. We’ve talked about respecting God, having respect for all people, regardless of their situations, race, economic status and popularity. Last week we talked about the importance of respecting our parents.

Throughout all this month there has been one common thread tying it all together, respect for God. It starts and ends there.

Our final week we focused on showing proper respect to the leaders that God has placed in charge of our lives. The need to focus on respect for our leaders is just as important as any of the others we have learned, we respect our leaders because God has put them in charge. If we don’t respect them, we aren’t respecting God’s choice for this time of our lives.

See, if we are to respect God, which is the ultimate goal, than we need to be able to respect the things that God has done (create people) and is doing (creating families and establishing leadership).

We don’t always agree 100% with what God does, because we don’t always 100% understand what God does. But we still need to show respect for those God has placed in authority in our lives. Pastors, teachers, government leaders, parents, and all of the other people God has place in our lives. They are worthy of respect because God has put them there, and by respecting them, we are showing our respect to God.

Here are a few ways we can learn to respect our leaders.

  1. Pray for them. Don’t pray they see your point of view, pray that God would guide them, pray that God would keep them healthy, bless their families. Pray for the person, not the position.
  2. Don’t talk bad about them. So you don’t like them or agree with them. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. This is also a good time to pray… for our own attitudes.
  3. Remember who is really in charge. David had a chance to kill Saul, but choose not to. Instead David relied on God’s plan to make him king, and respected the person God put in charge. David was able to do this because he recognized that ultimately, God is in charge.

Thanks for reading! There is downloadable printout for this weeks lesson review you can share with your child. I am looking forward to our new series in September; Lunchroom, which will be focusing on friendship. See you soon!

Pastor Paul

GL Kids Parents Week 4