- It’s not my work/ministry, it’s God’s. One of the ways I express that is to ask that my name not be put on the church sign. Those of you who live here in the Minocqua area know that’s a battle I’ve lost – for the first time in my ministry. Still, it’s not my church, it’s God’s.
- God’s Word is a daily necessity. When I look through sermons from my early years in ministry, I find myself saying it’s good to be in the Word 2, 3, 4 times per week. I’m embarrassed by that now. It needs to be every day. Every day. The battle for souls and the fight for faith is a fierce as ever. And worship must be a priority. One thing that’s changed just over the past decade is families come to worship less often. Twenty years ago, the typical family with kids was in church 2-3 times per month. Now, it’s maybe once a month. Often, less. Come on, moms and dads. Every one of us. Do we really have anything more important to do than to hear the Word of our gracious God and worship him? God’s Word is necessary. Every week. Every day. For daily life and eternal life.
- When someone in our church family is hurting, the shepherd hurts too. I’ve come to understand the whole shepherd/sheep analogy in a very personal way. When a member is feeling rejection, illness, grief, loss, your pastor feels it too. Certainly not as deeply as the person going through it, but I’m stunned at times by the depth of emotion that accompanies pastoral care. Or when a member is rebelling against God’s Word, disinterested in the things that really matter, or leaves for bad reasons, it hurts the shepherd. I know I shouldn’t, but I do tend to take those things personally. It hurts, I’m concerned about that person’s relationship with Jesus, and in the end I can only ask God to work in that person’s life.
- The world changes, but the Gospel never changes. It’s breathtaking, really, the changes in our world. Just in the area of knowledge, consider this: a typical weekday edition of the New York Times contains more information than a person would encounter in a lifetime in the 17th century. Mind-boggling. A century ago, the sum total of all human knowledge doubled every 50 years. Ten years ago, it was every two years. With the proliferation of the internet and digital information, some experts suggest that the sum total of all human knowledge now doubles every 12 hours. Every. 12. Hours. Again, mind-boggling, but how much of this is essential for eternity? The Gospel of Christ doesn’t change. Ever. The need for repentance, Law and Gospel, sin and grace never changes. You and I know these truths. They are timeless. They are eternal. They are sharable. We must share these truths at every opportunity, with urgency. Because forgiveness and life in Christ are what truly matter.
- Patience in all things is essential – in life, in marriage and family, in ministry. I struggle with this, but I’ve gotten better. How? By remembering how patient Jesus my Good Shepherd is with me – his stubborn, rebellious, obstinate, foolish lamb. If he can be sooooo patient with me and my failings and weaknesses and sins, I can learn to show some semblance of that patience toward others. Besides, Jesus is always at work in the details of life and ministry in ways of which I am unaware. But I remain humbled by and grateful for his grace.
Pastor Stephen Luchterhand