Friday, 8/25/2017

 

Hi There!

 

Last Saturday was a full and wonderful day. At 8 a.m. we had four guys show up to began the process of taking out and re-installing seven doors into our parsonage remodel project. Lee Rausch led the project and installed all of the doors with the expert help of Joe Goetz. Those guys worked so well together. At 8 a.m. the new doors were unpacked. We thank God for Rob Szwedo for his time of sanding, staining, and putting several coats of polyurethane on each door. He owns General Finishers in East Troy, Wisconsin and sells the staining products. They perfectly matched the cupboards and cabinets that we had installed earlier in the summer. All seven doors were installed by Lee & Joe as Collin Takkinen and I continued to cut the bottoms of the door jams and doors to fit each area where the doors were placed. Linda was out shopping during the late morning and afternoon. When she came home she was surprised that all of the doors were in place and looked GREAT! When she walked through into the kitchen and went down the hallway, she shrieked with joy and delight at the job that had been completed. We were not done completely at that time and the trim had to be put around the door frames. She is one happy woman!!! We are thankful for the Jesus and Jesus, Jr. Castro who also came along to help with the project in the early morning to get us started in the right direction. We thank God for the gifts to allow us to get one step closer to a finished project. More trim boards need to be put in place, the base boards need to be put on the cabinets and walls. There are small jobs that yet need to be done. We are thankful for God’s provision of prayers, finances, and labor of time to get us to this point. Keep praying. We need about another $5,000 to finish the project financially…you can pray about this matter also. Thank you!!!

 

1 Corinthians 8:10-13 - But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating[a] in an idol's temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? 11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. 12 Thus, sinning against your brothers[c] and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

 

Subject:  How Eating is a Sin

 

Yesterday we learned that all foods are good to eat. However, Paul ends this chapter by saying that there is one exception to this rule. He tells the recipients of this letter to be careful (watch out) that they do not take the right (authority, freedom of choice) to become a stumbling block (provide an occasion for someone to sin). Whoa! If I eat certain foods, it may cause someone to sin?

 

In the day in which Paul lived in a time that some of the believers were associated with idol worshiping. They would had a pattern of behavior of sacrificing animals to their “god” and then would take the remainder of the meat and sell it in the marketplace to shoppers. When they became a Christian they had a weak conscience realizing that this was a common practice. To eat such meat in their eyes was a sin.

 

Paul already stated that “the eating of food offered to idols, is not an issue in God’s sight (v.4). However, if a person with a weak conscience sees a person having knowledge eating meat offered in an idol’s temple, he will not be encouraged and he will be destroyed (ruined) – v.10. So, by your knowledge (freedom to eat) the weak person is ruined. This will result in sinning against your brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

The even deeper results is that one sins against Christ (v.12). Paul said, Therefore, if food makes (causes) my brother to stumble (a cause for stumbling), I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble (sin) – v.13. The application for our lives may not be about eating meat, but it may be about other matters.

 

One New Year’s Eve early in my ministry here at Grace Bible Church, we had a small party. We were playing games and I was involved in a card game with others. An older couple came into the large room with a lot of laughing and fun going on and I noticed that they were somber. I talked with them later and found out that they were offended by the card playing that was going on. I later received a tract that talked about cards, dice, and other forms of gambling. It was because of that evening that I was careful about playing cards or dice with those in our church. I did not want to offend any other believer. We made sure that card playing did not go on during church fellowships like we had that one New Year’s Eve. This may be an application to this passage for us since we are not concerned about meat offered to idols in America.

 

Caring about Others,

 

Pastor Les

 

Scripture is from the ESV® Bible  (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Thursday, 8/24/2017

 

Good Morning, Christian,

 

“It was short and sweet,” the way I would describe it, but it was a great time!!! Linda and I along with Steve, Chelsea, and Hannah went to Prairie Du Chein on Sunday afternoon and came back on Tuesday morning. Steve had a major exam for his fireman’s credentialing and needed to begin his paramedic classes at WCTC on Wednesday morning. The boy had a little bit of stress on him when he came back on Tuesday, but was entrusting it to the Lord (Prov. 3:5-7). God gave us safety to and from PDC as we traveled in the beautiful country of Wisconsin. The rolling hills all covered with green vegetation. There miles and miles of corn and soy beans along the interstate and highways to PDC. What beauty God has created and along with the farmers, they have made some beautiful scenery of God’s creation. We spent much time just relaxing and spent a most pleasant time going to Pike’s Peak on Monday morning. The prediction for rain for Monday and Tuesday were in the forecast along with the eclipse of the sun. We got up in the morning to a cloudy sky and as we looked at the new prediction for the day, it seemed like the rain would go to our south. We ate breakfast, checked out of our hotel, and headed to Pike’s Peak. As we drove through the town of McGregor, Iowa, we found it to be partially destroyed by a tornado. It had ripped trees down, taken housetops off, and damaged homes by trees falling on them and tearing off siding. The tornado came through the town at 6:08 pm on July 19, 2017. It actually began 5 miles west of McGregor and hit the town with 110 mph winds for approximately 5.7 miles long and about 400 yards wide. Only 2 minor injuries were reported, but lots of trees and homes were damaged. The scenery was beautiful as we walked through the trails of Pike’s Peak for about 3 miles. What a beautiful view of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers far above the water’s edge. We thank God for this privilege of seeing His creation!!!

 

1 Corinthians 8:7-8 -  7 However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. 

 

Subject:  God and Food

 

In the beginning of time God spoke to Adam about eating. He must have known that man would have a passion to enjoy food. He told man that he could eat of any tree in the Garden of Eden except the fruit from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Yes, man was a vegetarian in the beginning of time, but after the Flood in Genesis 6-9, the Lord open the doors to eat everything in the animal kingdom as well.

 

Food is necessary to live. As Americans living in a land of plenty, most of us can enjoy three meals a day with a balanced diet. Our next meal takes much of our time to plan, prepare, and consume the food that we usually enjoy. There are times that our meal is unpleasant and we stuff it down anyway. But, normally we enjoy the food that is cooked and most of us watch the waistline to see how it responds to the food we just ate.

 

Many American have discipline when it comes to food, but more than 50% are not too concerned about their diets until it is too late and the doctors say that one has to restrict his or her diet to live a better quality of life. Sometimes it is after a heart attack, a stroke, being diagnosed as having sugar diabetes or some other physical problem. Food is something that we do not want to give up in life, but at times it is a necessity or the alternative we put ourselves in jeopardy of death itself.

 

Paul says “Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.” (v.8) The food we eat will not “commend” (to cause to be in a place of approval) in the presence of God. It matters not if you eat fat producing pizza or healthy veggies for lunch. God does not see us any differently because of the food we eat or not eat.

 

Paul writes in 1 Timothy 4:4-5, “For everything (foods – v.3) created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” God created food to be enjoyed by mankind. He gave us such a variety of food for the body and tasteful for the taste buds. Do give thanks to God for each meal that you have with a heart of gratefulness. May God allow you to enjoy many years of good eating.

 

Enjoying my meals,

 

Pastor Les

 

Scripture is from the ESV® Bible  (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, 8/23/2017

 

Howdy!

 

This past week on Thursday Linda and I made plans to visit Ann (age 96 ½) and Jackie (80’s). We planned to bring the Chinese meal and enjoy a time of fellowship. During the time of being without a kitchen during the remodeling project, Ann invited us for a meal and we enjoyed the food and the fellowship with her. Since Ann and Jackie live in the same build with over 100 other people, we thought it would be good to get together and enjoy a time of food and fellowship. Linda went to Great Apple to get the food while I finished my nap and get ready for the visit. We were informed that Jackie was unable to come because she was not feeling well. We continued with our plans to go to Ann’s apartment and have a good time with her. We enjoyed our meal laughing and talking about a whole lot of things. At the end of the meal I tried to call Jackie so that we might stop by for a short visit before our Board meeting that evening. Jackie shared with me that she was headed to the hospital and the paramedics were already called. I saw the truck pull into the driveway as we talked. I hung up the phone and Linda and I headed to her room to comfort here and pray with her. When we got there she was fearful…although our time was short, it was meaningful. We prayed for Jackie and walked her to the elevator and saw her leave with the paramedics. God’s timing is always perfect. We thanked God for the opportunity to touch base with these two women of God. How rich we are to know people like this in our lives!!!

 

1 Corinthians 8:4-6 - Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

 

Subject:  Only One God Exists

 

One would look at the subject and say, “I agree with that one!” But there is more to the subject than just one statement. Paul begins in verse 4 by stating that we know one thing for sure. That knowledge that we would all agree upon as Christians is “an idol has no real existence.” That is, any idol has no life, no power, and is not GOD.

 

The second fact that we would affirm is that “there is no God but one.” But what do these two statements have to do about the matter of eating food offered to idols? Well, there is another fact that we as believers in Jesus Christ is that there are many so-called gods in our universe, but this is a statement that would also be stated by an unbeliever in Jesus as Savior as well. It is interesting that Paul states that these so-called gods are in heaven or on earth. When I read that statement, I asked, “What is his point with these words?” (v.5).

 

Please note the small case word “gods” and not “Gods”. These are so-called “gods” and none of them are not God at all. As the book of Psalms proclaim: “For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD made the heavens.” (95:3). Again the Psalmist writes, “For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.” (97:9). And again the Psalmist declares: “Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever.” (136:2). So the god of the idols are not God at all and need to be seen in that light.

 

Although there are many “gods” and “lords” in our world, yet for us as Christians there is but one God, the Father. It from HIM that all things came. It from HIM that we all exist. And, there is one Lord, Jesus Christ by whom are all things and through whom we exist (v.6). The universe has its existence and He is the creator of all of them!!!

 

Now back to the phrase in verse 5 which says, “so-called gods are in heaven or on earth.” We do understand the “gods” on earth. They are the idols made of all kinds of materials. But, the “gods that are in heaven” to what do these refer? There are many who worship the stars, the moon, and the sun. Astrology is based on the placement of these objects in the sky and “give them signs for the future. That is where we get our horoscopes that are based upon the heavenly objects which are not God. Yes, there is only one God and He is the God of the Bible, even the Lord Jesus Christ!!!

 

Faith in One God,

 

Pastor Les

 

Scripture is from the ESV® Bible  (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Tuesday, 8/22/2017

 

Good Morning, Believer in Christ Jesus,

 

Today part of the world will be able to see a partial eclipse of the sun. Our area may or may not be able to see it depending upon whether it is cloudy or sunny. It looks rather doubtful at this time, but we shall see on Tuesday. Those that live to the south and west of Milwaukee will be able to have a better view of it, if one wants to see it at all? Over the years of my life I have seen a number of eclipses. I remember one of them when I was about 12 years old. I remember the warnings of not looking at the sun when this happens because it will damage one’s eyes. Also, do not look at the eclipsed sun with a pair of ordinary sunglasses. It does not take long for the sun to do its damage to our precious eyes. It will cause permanent damage and never be able to be repaired in this lifetime on earth. That year I looked at the sun in a reflection of a mud puddle. It did a good job of allowing me to see the event but without hurting my eyes. I read about those in some countries that worship the sun and at some point in their life upon earth decided to look directly into the sun to appease the god of the sun. In just a few days of doing that act caused the person to be left totally blind never to see again. What a price to pay for a false perception of a “god”. The sun has been worshiped by many cultures and seems to be a focus of many people around the world. The sun has great value as we consider the heat, the light, and the necessity for the plants on earth. But, it is only the sun and it was created by God to have an important function upon this planet. May we thank God for this gift to our world!!!

 

1 Corinthians 8:1-3 - 1Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.

 

Subject: Which is Better, Knowledge or Love?

 

Paul now switches the subject from marriage and morality to food offered to idols. This question or concern came from the Corinthian believers and Paul wants to respond to it. The question that is being focused upon is most likely stated: Is it right to eat meet that has been offered to an idol or a false god?

 

He begins by saying that all of us possess knowledge on this matter. That is, the Christians probably know the answer that Paul is going to bring to this question. But, he states, that a person knowing a matter puffs up (to make one proud or arrogant) that person, but there is another alternative to look at this issue. That alternative is to love (regard someone with affection). When love is demonstrated it will build up people. Just remember: For one to say, “I love you” is not enough. Those are just words and without action of regarding another person with affection, they are just empty words.

 

Concerning the subject of knowledge, just because someone has knowledge we need to realize that we may have not possessed enough knowledge concerning any matter. There is always more to learn about any matter. Sometimes we think that we know some matter completely. And it may be that it is possible to know facts, details, specifics, and essentials about a subject, but more can be developed on most every subject.

 

The problem with people as they grow older is that they think they have lived longer than others that are younger, but this may not be necessarily true. As we grow older we are more rigid in our personal beliefs and are less prone to change or be willing to be educated. The problem is in our culture that things are changing radically at a very quick pace. With technology, discoveries, and new inventions, knowing becomes obsolete rather quickly. Look what has happened in the computer industry over the past 25 years. I have lived through the changes that I have had to learn over those years and I have just scratched the surface of that big area of growth in knowledge. I am probably ten years behind in knowing as I should know.

 

But, in the area of love, we can be affectionate toward others by our actions and love does not change. I define love as “the giving of oneself expecting nothing in return.” And you and I fall short of this kind of love. It is only God who can love in this way and loved in this way through His Son Jesus Christ. So if you have a choice of having knowledge or love, choose love. And, if we love others, let God love others through YOU. You will see by the end of the week that love wins!!!

 

Love others through God’s Spirit,

 

Pastor Les

 

Scripture is from the ESV® Bible  (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Monday, 8/21/2017 Good Morning, Linda and I enjoy walking about 2-3 miles in the evenings. There are many evenings that we feel too tired to go on a walk and the other person encourages the other one to go that evening. The other evening we went on a walk. We began going a different direction than we had all summer. We headed for Lincoln Avenue which our street “117th Street” dead-ends. We crossed the street and walked up a small embankment with a much worn path with tree roots sticking up boldly from the earth beneath. It has a sharp incline to a level spot that continues into the woods. The path is also worn and goes across about 20 acres of property. It crosses another bike/walking path about 200 yards into the woods. The trees are large and fully grown. As a former logger, I would love to take my chain saw and cut down trees for logs and fire wood, but it is good to see it standing tall and straight for us to enjoy. We continue about another 500 yards and come out the other side of the wooded area unto another pathway. This time it is tarmac and it is about six to eight feet wide. The erosion has corrupted some of the path, but it is mostly in good condition. We walked by Greenfield Park pond and headed toward a golfing course about another 500 yards through more woods. They have taken an old railroad track and developed it into a bike and walkway for those that enjoy these activities. We headed east toward 116th street and it began to sprinkle. We have about another ¾ of a mile to home. The closer to home we get, the harder it rains. By the time we get home we find ourselves rather wet. It was a very good walk as we both enjoy walking in God’s rain. We are looking for another day to do it again in the rain!!! 1 Corinthians 7:38 – 38 So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better. 39A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.40 Yet in my judgment she is happier if she remains as she is. And I think that I too have the Spirit of God. Subject: The Good, Better and Best Why is it that sometimes we do not choose the best in life even when we KNOW that it is the top choice by God for us? Or, is it our spirit of independence or is it our contentious spirit of rebellion? No matter what the reason, I like to say that I always choose the best in my life, but that would be a lie. I am like every other person on earth and the rest of the Christians…I choose the good at times and at other times the better. I am the one who misses out when I make an inferior decision on any issue. In verse 38 Paul reminds the man that if he marries his engaged woman, he does well and if he does not marry her, he does better. So why is Paul saying this? If you look at verse 40, I think he gives us the answer. He uses the word “happier” which means that she will be blessed with the favorable circumstance of being single. It is a matter of happiness with the lack of “problems” and not have to deal with as many worldly troubles (v.28). But, also he or she will not have to be divided in their time of serving the Lord and their spouse. In the case of a woman who married to a man, in verse 39 Paul says that she is bound (to cease someone to be under the authority of someone, to restrict, to be under jurisdiction) to her husband. This circumstance lasts until death do they part. And, if the husband dies, she is free to seek a husband and be married again. In this case, it must be a Christian man but it would be Paul’s opinion that she would be happier if she stays unmarried (v.40). Paul thinks that he possesses the Spirit of God’s opinion as well in this matter. Imagine a woman being married to a man or a man to a woman for 20 or 30 years and now the spouse dies. Think about all of the habits and the routines that the living spouse has “built into his or her life” and now think about “training” another spouse. My wife and I talk about that from time to time as we do talk about dying and we jest about seeking another spouse for the one who is alive. It would not be easy for Linda or me to marry again. There would have to be some serious changes in our lives if that were to happen let alone the person that marries either one of us. A second marriage is not easy even if children are not involved. Then there are the children who are grown up and see Mom or Dad thinking about marrying another person or even planning on getting married to another person. There might be conflict even in this journey. There is a lot to think about and much consideration before making a decision like that. So Paul and the Holy Spirit are right in this matter (my opinion). Glad to be still married, Pastor Les Scripture is from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.