Dear Members and Friends of St. John,
In the last month I have had the privilege as pastor of performing 3 weddings. Each couple was different, as one would expect. But, one experience was true in all 3 of these weddings. I saw broad smiles of joy on all of the couples as the ceremony was concluded. There was real joy and hope in the hearts of the husbands and wives as they began the tougher job of making their marriage work. I am thankful to have the privilege of seeing that joyful response again this Saturday as I perform the fourth marriage at St. John in a little over a month.
In addition, this Wednesday, January 31, the 8th grade confirmation class I teach starts studying in their final lesson book. All 3 classes are using texts from “Faith Incubators,” a confirmation series from a church in Minnesota. The book we begin on January 31 is entitled, “Hot Topics.” The first lesson in this book, the lesson with which we begin is entitled, “Sex and Love.”
Our youngest son Tim is teaching Senior High Sunday School this year. Kathy told him that if he agreed to teach, as he had been asked, she would provide snacks each week. So he agreed. He has been using the Nooma videos to teach Biblical truth and bring up conversation of faith among the students. I did not witness the conversation between Tim and Kathy in church that has now become another family legend. One Sunday, a month or so ago, Tim entered church after Sunday School and sat down by Kathy. He is reported to have related, “So, when you don’t prepare the night before, and you put in the Nooma video, and the lesson is on The Song of Solomon (a love poem by Solomon) . . . Whew! I dodged that bullet!”
Sex and love are a big part of the life of each person created by God. Sometimes the experience is a positive blessing. Sometimes our experience with sex and love can lead to deep sorrow and regret. No wonder Tim felt like he dodged a bullet. In fact, the old saying was that in public “you don’t talk about religion or politics.” Maybe some have added sex and love to that statement. This is a “hot topic” (as my confirmation lesson book implies) both in the realm of faith and in the realm of politics.
So, what would a pastor teach an 8th grade confirmation class on this topic? When I was in 8th grade I confess to being naïve and to lacking knowledge. That was not necessarily a bad thing. Today’s 8th grade students have been bombarded with these topics from TV, movies, and social media. They have already been influenced to certain kinds of thinking. Actually, rather than making this topic easier to teach, it becomes easier to offend.
I have learned to teach the basics of Scripture and to answer questions about specifics as they arise. But, I have also learned that if God’s people do not teach God’s principles in this area my students will learn other ideas from our culture. These ideas are often contrary to God’s plan.
The first lesson I teach comes from Genesis 2:24. This verse from the Creation Account is the foundation verse in Scripture on marriage. Jesus uses this verse to teach about marriage and divorce in Matthew 19 and other places. Paul uses this verse to teach about marriage and God’s church in Ephesians 5. Genesis 2:24 says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The simple lessons from this verse are that marriage between one man and one woman is God’s plan. The “oneness” of sex is God’s gift to strengthen marriage and families.” That’s pretty simple.
The other verse I am using to teach my confirmation class is the memory verse for this lesson from 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” Actually, God tells us in His word we are to honor Him with “All our heart and soul and mind and strength.” (Mark 12:30) God calls us to honor Him even in the things we eat (1 Corinthians 10:31), in “whatever we do”. (Colossians 3:23) We honor God, not so that we can earn His love. We honor God because He “bought” us and saved us with the price of the sacrifice of His very own Son. So, the second lesson I teach my class is that God also calls us to “honor God with your body.”
Finally, in confirmation class, based on the questions from my lesson book, I will ask the students to list complications to life that are the result of living in a way that is different from God’s plan for family, God’s plan for sex and love. We will place that list on one side of a white board. I also ask them to list the blessings that come from doing what God calls us to do in 1 Corinthians 6, “honor God with your body.” My students may be young, but they can write these lists pretty easily.
The truth is that in this world of sin these simple concepts become very complicated. It was the same in Jesus’ day. (You can read about these complications in Matthew 19:2-12, Luke 7:36-50, Luke 15:1-3, John 4:4-43, John 8:1-12). Thankfully, in the middle of life’s complications we hear God’s love and mercy for His wandering sheep. He directs us back to a healthy relationship with Himself through His mercy and forgiveness in Jesus, and as we “honor God with your body.”
“Whew!” I know what Tim meant when he said, “I dodged a bullet on that one.”
A Child of God, Love and Sex – Trusting God’s Love and Wisdom in a Complicated Area of Life,
P.S. Last week was a busy week. There were meetings with meals on
· Thursday, January 25 – an Elders meeting to meet new DCE Intern, Ethan Mirly, at the home of Ron and Ann Marie Svedin.
· Friday, January 26 – The Koinonia Senior Fellowhip met at church with 13 people enjoying a pot luck meal.
· Saturday, January 27 – the Christian Couples Group met for a pot luck at St. John with 17 people in attendance.
P.P.S. We also had weddings https://photos.app.goo.gl/obYm0cp6hfMUsE4F3
· Friday for Becky Maxwell and Tom Lutz, and
· Saturday for Rebekah Watkins and Caleb Gabel.
P.P.P.S. Our Dave Ramsey “Financial Peace University” Class continues to meet on Sundays at 1:00 p.m. Last Sunday 25 people attended. Here are a couple of pictures. https://photos.app.goo.gl/wGLTvPMpsixXTpVx1
P.P.P.P.S. I intended to go fishing last Monday. However with 60 mph winds throughout the valley I chose not to sit on the ice in the winds. We did, however, find protection from the wind in Hatcher Pass as I drove for 3 St. John Ski bums as they traversed the Paradise and Sixteen Mile runs. https://photos.app.goo.gl/sjQq6z8TKSQVATug2
ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ - I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have. (I am regularly adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.) However, if you do not want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message.