Dear Members and Friends of St. John,
One of the reasons I enjoy fishing is that every trip seems like an “adventure.” Yes, equipment can break. The fish may not be biting. The weather can be challenging. But, dealing with these challenges as we experience God’s creation, and making it home safely to then fish another day, that experience is an adventure.
For example, the last time I went fishing on September 24, St. John member, Kym Miller came fishing with me. First, at our beginning fishing hole, I lost the two dogs I had brought along for about a half an hour (after Mary’s dog had rolled in a rotting fish carcass). Then we had a “close encounter of the moose kind.” A cow moose walked out of the woods, right near Kym, into the river and up the other shore, followed by twin calves, and also followed by a young bull. (He was not legal to shoot, even though it was still moose season.) Perhaps the dogs had scared the moose across the river. The bull stood on the far shore grunting, stating his claim for all to hear. Finally, as we were getting ready to leave for the day, the clouds blew in quickly. But, with 2 spawned salmon on the lines we sought to release them. As we were dealing with the fish one of the most violent rain storms I have seen in Alaska unleashed wind, hard pelting rain, hail, and lightning which streaked across the sky. It was such a violent storm that my dog, Mat, became scared and jumped out of the boat as we rushed down river to the landing. But, we did finally get the boat out of the water, and ourselves into a warm and dry truck, and we made it home with stories to tell. Now, that’s an adventure!
Do you feel like life is an adventure? Or do you feel like every day is the same old thing? Are you weary of life’s trials? Do you long for something new?
My recent devotions have led me through the book of Colossians. In Colossians God calls us to a “new” life. Paul writes in Colossians 3:10, “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”
We are told in the first part of Colossians 3 what this new life is not like. We fight sinful behaviors of the flesh. “5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices.” (Colossians 3:5-9) Does that struggle sound familiar?
Then, God calls us to live as the new person He made us to be in Jesus. “12 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:12-14)
I don’t know about you, but when the world and the people around me are leading me toward anger or lust or greed, and I fight those desires, that fight is a challenge. That fight and that challenge is a real adventure every day as a child of God.
When life is tough on the job or at home and I can act in gentleness, or in patience, when I can show forgiveness, or love, even if I do so imperfectly, that new behavior feels like an accomplishment.
Thankfully, we are not alone in this fight. Actually, God has won this fight for us in Jesus, and we get to live as His followers in the victory of Jesus. “1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1-3)
When God forgives our sins through Jesus death on the cross, really forgives our anger or lust or greed and remembers them no more, the old part of our lives has died. We are not slaves to sin. We don’t live in fear of judgment or condemnation. Colossians 2:9-15 tells us how God accomplishes this death and forgiveness in our baptisms.
When we know the victory over sin and death in Jesus’ resurrection, we are “raised with Christ.” We have the sure promise of eternal life in heaven because of Jesus, so we can face and we can take on these temptations and “adventures” of life, knowing that in Jesus we have eternal life in heaven.
Confirmation classes start this week at St. John for 30-40 middle school students. Now, for the teachers, teaching these students is an adventure. In confirmation I frequently hear young teenagers tell me they are bored. I hope and pray to teach them the adventure of dying to sin, and rising to new life in Jesus. (I may be crazy, but teaching these middle school students is part of the adventure I truly enjoy!)
A Child of God, Seeing Life as an Adventure of Dying with Jesus to Sin, and Rising with Him to New Life!
P.S. The grandkids and I harvested potatoes, carrots, and our remaining cabbages on Monday, October 1. Here are a couple of pictures. https://photos.app.goo.gl/93Yjo8gYZECFuy3PA
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.