Pastor Larry’s Blog--The sixth in this year’s series of monthly thoughts that will hopefully give you some joy in the journey of living life to the fullest.
What if you knew you had one month to live? How much differently would your life look on that 30-day journey? I recently had the privilege of speaking to a bunch of seniors at The Oregon Manor on that topic. I have to admit, that same message looks a little different when I’m speaking to people that might possibly be living the title of this blog.
At DV8 tomorrow night I’ll be speaking on something similar as I focus on the title, “Living a Well-Lived Life.” Does that look differently for a group of high school students than it does for a group well advanced in years? It most likely well. However, there are some distinct similarities between both messages. Here’s a little glimpse…
Here are four key pieces of living a life that is well-lived and also how I would want to live my life if I only had a month to love. I’ll use an acrostic so simple minds like mine might be able to recall;
Pastor Larry’s Blog--The fifth in this year’s series of monthly thoughts that will hopefully give you some joy in the journey of living life to the fullest.
One of my favorite but heart-wrenching stories is about a little boy that loved to fish but would never catch anything. He would go through the same motions of choosing his spot, digging up worms and then proceed to fish for the day. One day, that little boy decided to switch things up. He changed his spot to fish in, dug up worms and then cast his line into the water. This time, the boy caught a fish immediately, then another and another. By days end he had caught almost a dozen fish!
However, as he began to walk home with those fish, he began to feel sick and dizzy, eventually collapsing face down in the dirt. He died that day. How you ask? In choosing a different spot, instead of digging up worms he had accidentally dug up a live nest of baby rattlesnakes! Those “stinging worms” while not possessing enough venom to kill the boy would simply numb him. By days end it was found that the boy had enough poison in him to kill two adults.
Satan is a master of subtlety and, as Scripture tells us in John 10:10a, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” I believe that one of his strategies is to entrap us with lies that we may begin to believe that start out small but eventually yield a boatload of toxin that could kill us. Are there lies that Satan has implanted in your mind and heart about who you are? How about where your self-worth is found? Are there lies from past sins that entangle your heart and keep you from feeling forgiven? The list could go on—fatigue, stress, anxiety, fear, temptation, revenge, etc.
If that’s the poison, what’s the antidote? Simply put…Jesus. Why? Because in Him there is truth. He said in John 8:32, ““If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” David, who was no stranger to sin, lies and guilt said in Psalm 31:5, “Into your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.” He also said in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
Col. 3:5-15 tells us that we need to “put off” those things that were a part of our old self and “put on” the new self by the renewing of our mind with the Word of God. Is it any wonder that in times of doubt, hurt, stress and lies that our desire for the Word is virtually nonexistent? Let God transform those lies you’ve believed by believing the truth He offers to all of us! The end result may be the peacethat you so desperately need and are looking for—“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:7)
Noah is on the top left of this pyramid next to Lane Kisely. The foundation of this pyramid, from left to right is Andrew Seitz, Anna Oelke and Nicole Brunke.
I’m not sure if you’re like me but sometimes I find myself reflecting and thinking about whether my life, empowered by the Lord, is really making a difference. Especially when it comes to my own family and those students that God has entrusted to me. If I’m honest, it can turn into a pity-party at times, but in those occasions where God shows me how He is working in the lives of my own kids and in the lives of our kids at Hillcrest I can’t help but stand back and thank Him for what He’s doing.
I was really blessed a few weeks ago by one of our Elevate students, Noah Bochman, who penned a really incredible poem talking about God’s sovereignty and how it affects all of us. I’d like to share that with you and trust that your heart is encouraged, challenged and inspired by the words of a young man who desires to glorify God with every fiber of his being.
God’s Heavenly Plan
By Noah Bochman
Life is only a circle, everything just goes around and Around.
One day you're flying high, Next day you're flat on the ground.
Everyone's here for a reason. Every child woman and man.
We are all a part of the tapestry of life. All a part of God's heavenly plan.
Strangers you meet may be angels, Hiding behind a disguise.
Always treat people you meet with respect, For everyone's equal in God's eyes.
Our lives are woven together, each one of us plays our part.
To live our lives the way God planned, With faith and love in our hearts.
So, remember we're here for a reason, and that Jesus was the Savior of man.
To live your life in harmony, and to follow God's heavenly plan.
I thank God for the difference students make in my life and, as parents, never discount your role, responsibility or affect to impact your kids for eternity and how they will impact others. I Tim. 4:12 says, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” The difference we all can make could be for eternity in God’s heavenly plan. Thanks for reminding me about that Noah! And way to go Bryan & Desiree on making a difference in your family!!
Pastor Larry’s Blog—The sixth in a series of bi-monthly thoughts that will hopefully give you some joy in the journey of parenting and living life to the fullest.
I had the privilege of doing my father-in-law’s funeral and graveside service last week. Yes, I’m choosing my words carefully and thus why I used “privilege” intentionally. It was a privilege because of who my dad was and because of the legacy he left behind for all of us to savor and partake in.
Yes, it was an emotionally difficult time but also one of celebration and praise. We’ve been a part of each other’s lives since Sept. of 1981 and he has been a godly dad that I’ve had the privilege of watching as he grew in his faith over the past 37 years. To be honest, I never remember ever calling him Erwin or Mr. Klingenberg. He has always been “Dad” to me and he made me feel as if I was his son from the beginning.
It was a privilege to have a few extra special memories with him on the last 3 days of his life as well as the Christmas before as we all got together for what would be our last Christmas with Him and all of our family.
I also had the privilege of watching his influence over our family and the way he loved on all of our kids and so many others. His pockets full of “Smarties” at church, slipping our boys a few bucks when leaving their home, watching him buy “special gifts” for all of our family but especially for his wife were just a few things I’d seen over the years that showed his generous and giving nature.
While we have a few believers in my immediate family I’ve had the privilege of being a part of this godly family which numbers over 25 in our immediate family and well over 50 with the extended family. Not a perfect family by any means but a family on the whole that prioritizes Christ and truly lives for His glory. What a privilege for us to have him know his one and only great grandchild prior to his death (as pictured above).
While there are many verses that can be used to describe the legacy of my godly father’s influence, 2 Timothy 2:2 above says it best. We both heard and saw and experienced the difference a man who gave his heart to the Lord and walked with quiet, behind-the-scenes integrity, while serving so humbly (Phil. 2:3-5).
It’s a privilege to know that he is no longer in pain and enjoying fellowship with the Lord and his family that had already departed this earth earlier. It’s a privilege to carry on his godly legacy and, with God’s empowerment, to be a man who “passes on the baton” of godly leadership as my dad has done.
Erwin Klingenberg, February 16, 1936 – February 22, 2018
Pastor Larry’s Blog--The fifth in a series of bi-monthly thoughts that will hopefully give you some joy in the journey of parenting and living life to the fullest.
At one of our last family gatherings we played the game “Speak Out” where you put that plastic thing in your mouth and try to utter recognizable phrases. I’m not sure what was more fun, listening to our family utter those phrases or words with the plastic mouthpiece or the endless drool that was running done our faces!
Ingrid once had on our bathroom mirror Psalm 141:3 for us to memorize. It says, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth. Keep watch over the door of my lips.” It seems that every day in the news is another report of someone letting their mouths get them into trouble and then having to deal with the consequences that come with accountability.
God in His word has provided so many warnings and wisdom when it comes to managing the words we say and the impact they might have. James 3:1-12 talks about the power of the tongue and Proverbs 10:19 says, “When there are many words, sin is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” Maybe you’ve also seen the T.H.I.N.K. acrostic when it comes to thinking before you speak—are the words you’re about to say True, Helpful, Inspiring, Kind and Necessary?
It’s so important for us to measure our words with our kids. Both the positive and negative effects of what we say can stay with our families forever. How many of us still remember both the encouraging words and the words that “cut like a knife” that people have said to us over the years?
The best way I know how to guard my mouth and heart is by immersing myself in His word. Not only will God’s word help us to control what I say but it will also help us to make an eternal difference in the lives of those we love the most.
Let’s go on the offensive and make the words of our mouth and the meditation of our heart be acceptable in God’s sight--Our Lord, our rock and our Redeemer (Psa. 19:14).
Christmas memories, how are yours? I think about many of our Christmas memories with such fondness and grateful for the family God has given me. Ingrid blessed our family with many of the traditions that she grew up with—the celebration of Advent (calendars, songs, stories, candles and the like), reading the Christmas story from Luke 2, having a birthday cake for Jesus and more.
I didn’t grow up in a traditional Christian family so all we basically did for Christmas was open presents and go to church. Needless to say, I absolutely loved incorporating these traditions in our family together and creating some new ones as well (cutting down our Christmas Tree, Christmas farm activities, making Christmas desserts and even Matzah ball soup (not exactly ‘Christmassy’ but fun nonetheless).
As you may or may not have heard, our family is growing with another grandchild (and this one looks to be our first grandson). We are very excited to add this new baby to the family and, Lord-willing, bring him up in the training and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). Our family is evolving and, as the Scriptures remind us, “To whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48). Our goal, as a family, is to bring honor and glory to the Lord for which we were created (Rev. 4:11). While it’s never too late to start a new tradition, modify an older one, or simply pray about what God would want you to do with your family, the key is to remember that we exist to glorify Him.
Especially during this Christmas season, let us seek to become more like Christ. As Paul wrote to the believers in Col. 1:15-23 we need to be the “visible representatives of the invisible God.” Why? Because Christ has redeemed us and we can celebrate that not only at Christmas but also for eternity!
Let’s make some memories that will be around for the generations that are coming after us! In the wonderful words of Charles Studd, “Only one life 'twill soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last.”
Offering even a cup of "hot water?"
Matthew 10:42 says, “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward." Would that work for hot water as well?
One of the many blessings I’m able to see is when our kids and leaders minister to others. Last weekend was our “Mission to Madison” (M2M) where our team of middle school students and leaders did an incredible job of ministering to the homeless with food, hot drinks (thus the question above), coats and prayer, participating in village projects in Oregon, collecting food for the Oregon Food Pantry and doing random “Rake and Run” projects in our city. I could give you a bunch of numbers on what was accomplished but the stories that came from this weekend are things you’ll hear from our middle school students and leaders…possibly at this year’s “Prayer, Praise & Pie” next Tuesday night at Hillcrest.
This weekend (Nov. 17-19) our high schoolers and leaders will be going to Chicago to accomplish many of the same objectives and a few additional ones. As always, our goal is to be faithful stewards by showing God’s love and grace to those we encounter. So whether we’re praying with those that are homeless, feeding the hungry, befriending strangers or whomever we encounter, we want God to receive the glory and just get out of the way. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to see our teams do this from a full heart. Desiring to adopt a “how can I help?” attitude with them taking a back seat so that God is glorified—not them, Hillcrest or our student ministry.
While their reward is most definitely in heaven, where neither rust or moth can destroy (Matt. 6:19,20), lives are being touched because they’ve made themselves available to do what God has called them to do and to be what God has equipped them to be. I’ve said many times that the almighty God of the universe is more than able to do whatever He wants. But, when it comes to His kids, God is much more interested in our availability than our ability.
Pastor Larry’s Blog--The second in a series of bi-monthly thoughts that will hopefully give you some joy in the journey of parenting and living life to the fullest.
Matthew 5:16 says, “…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.” I’m not sure where I remember hearing it but I love this phrase—“I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day.” I don’t mean to imply that I don’t love listening to sermons but, and I think you would agree, those things that are done are far more impacting than when they’re just said.
God calls us to lead by example when it comes to serving Him, our families and anyone else He puts in our path. I’m not sure if this is your experience but I had no idea on just how selfish I was until I became a father. It is such a wonderful title to have but it calls us to consistently put the needs of our family before our own.
I do remember the first time I heard someone say this and actually mean it, “Do as I say, not as I do.” At first, I was like, “Did he really just say that?” And unfortunately, the answer was “yes” and he meant it. While words are important, we all realize that actions are better taught when they’re caught in example.
God wants us to model Him just as Jesus did. In Col. 1 Paul tell us that Christ “Is the image of the invisible God” (vs. 15) and God holds us to that standard as well. It’s so important for us to understand that our kids will reflect the example we show to them. I still remember the first time I heard sarcasm come from one of my sons when they were very young, that same sarcasm that I unfortunately had modeled way too many times. Our sin is an ever-present reality but when we see that same sin lived out in the lives of our kids it seems to sting even more.
It’s a high standard that God calls us to when He asks us to be “salt & light” in our own family (Matt. 5) but it’s a standard that we need to model. As we abide in Christ (John 15) He gives us the power to lead by example and to walk as Jesus walked (I Jn. 2:6). So, let’s not sell ourselves short, we can be those “living sermons” where our words and actions complement each other as we strive to lead by example and embody what Paul said in I Cor. 11:1, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Why? Because children are great imitators so give them something great to imitate!
For God’s glory…not ours.
Pastor Larry’s Blog--The first in a series of bi-monthly thoughts that will hopefully give you some joy in the journey of parenting and living life to the fullest.