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Pastor's Monthly Message


Pastor's Monthly Message...Febuary..2018

The Religion of Sports

By the time this article reaches you, we probably will have been affected by the "Superbowl". Every year it seems we become more and more involved in our devotion and interest in sports. Most people are either involved in or avidly watch some form of physical competition.
This attraction to sports seems to be at the highest point in the fall or spring of the year when many of the professional; sports overlap. In the fall, baseball is wrapping up it's season, football is in full swing, hockey and basketball are beginning, hunting and fishing is at its best and most other activities like golf and tennis continue to attract attention.
For the most part, this is a good thing because it involves so many of us either as participants or spectators. For many, it is exciting entertainment. Some sports, like football, are annual community rituals, and add to a sense of community. For participants, on the other hand, in all sports it means added self-discipline and confidence, increased physical involvement and a healthy exercise of the competitive spirit.
Recreational sports have been with us a long time. The Lord was always an advocate of physical as well as spiritual strength, of a healthy body as well as a sound mind. In this sense the interest in sports has been good for our nation and communities.
But, as in all good things, there is a need for moderation and responsibility in our recreational pursuits. If some alien came from another planet they might well think that our national religion was football, baseball, golf or basketball. Unfortunately, they are the only "Worship" services many attend.

Pastor's Monthly Message...January,2018

Planning A Life

A Greek philosopher made the observation that an unplanned life was not very productive. Usually, he thought, individuals didn't know what they were going to accomplish, where they were going in life or how they would get there.
We, as individuals, need a plan for life, how to get rid of all the jumble and confusion. Most people, we might think, live day by day, concentrating on the pleasure of the moment, caring little for the effort that longtime goals demand. There is a natural tendency to be self-interested, but most of us don't pursue our own best interest. Instead, we follow illusions, momentary desire, mutual conflicting wants. We prefer whim rather than purpose, and we seek pleasure rather than perfection. We are so influenced by the world around us that we, all to often, choose short-term gratification over long term fulfillment.
Most of the time we find that moral errors are the result of shortcuts, attempts to get results in the wrong way. No result of any importance can be achieved in an instant.
The younger we are, the less likely it is that we have a plan for living. When we're young, our goals are usually immediate ones - things to do, things to get, things to be enjoyed today.
As we grow older and more purposeful, we begin to attempt to try to fit our various purposes together into a coherent scheme for living. We learn to plan. We learn we can't do it all at once, and we learn to be flexible in changing conditions to fit our most important goals.

Pastor's Monthly Message..December...2017

The Potential Within Us

We are often reminded that we rarely live up to our potential in our lives. The problem often seems to be that none of us are really aware of what that potential is. What exactly is the range of our abilities? Maybe it is because we don't examine ourselves a lot, perhaps we're afraid to take risks or we lack the courage to risk failure. Most people who are successful have failed at many things in life.
One of the virtues of a formal education is that it requires us to test ourselves in areas or activities that are not of our own choosing - at which time we might fail. Learning is a lifelong endeavor, but when we are on our own, we have a tendency to restrict ourselves to the things we are familiar with and which we do reasonably well. We have a tendency to avoid things which are a challenge, once tried or that we have tried and failed at.
We also need to free ourselves from asking ourselves the questions,
What will people say?" and from putting ourselves in social situations where we compromise our beliefs and principals because "everybody is doing it".
One of the paradoxes of life is that almost everyone wants to improve their circumstances, but hardly anyone wants to improve himself or herself, or at least take a risk to do so. Self-discipline, self-improvement and the establishment of strong values and standards in our lives are all essential and should be lifelong goals.
In trying to expand our abilities, we should not overlook the spiritual strength and potential which lies within us. A careful caring of our spiritual nature will help release many dormant talents.

Pastor's Monthly Message...November..2017

Living With False Expectations

Oftentimes we find ourselves looking ignorant because we have trusted misinformation. With very little effort, we pass on untruths which we assume to be accurate. It would amaze us, if we stopped to think about it, how many things that we believe to be true that, in fact, are not true.
It might seem obvious to us when we are asked, "Where was the battle of Bunker Hill fought?" But the seemingly obvious answer is not the right one. The shots heard at that Revolutionary War battle were fired at Breed's Hill, not Bunker Hill. And who said "Elementary my dear Watson?" Certainly not Sherlock Homes, because that quotation is never used in any of Conan Doyle stories. We all carry with us a lot of misinformation.
Perhaps, most of those many pieces of misinformation never do us much harm. but we also carry around many false ideas about life and how we ought to proceed in life which are dangerous or damaging. These illogical and irrational ideas slowly and silently convince us.
Many people believe that we ought to be totally competent in everything that we do. We believe that is part of being an adult. Because of this, we are often reluctant to admit errors. We hate to believe we have vulnerabilities. Worst of all, we torment ourselves when we do not achieve as much as we think we should. It can come to a point where we only see our faults and no strengths at all.
It is irrational to think we can be competent in all our endeavors. The very fact that we have developed some skills means that we have left other skills untended.

Pastor's Monthly Message...October..2017

Think Beyond The News Headline

There was a time when men and women knew their neighbors when all the people in the little towns knew their neighbors by their first names. There was a time when the news of births and deaths, sickness and good fortune was passed from mouth to mouth, house to house until everyone in the town either reveled in the joys or grieved in sadness.
When the church bells in my little town rang out the news of someone who had passed away, all stopped to ask for whom the bells tolled. People counted the rings which told the age of the departed soul. One ring might have indicated a baby who died in childbirth, a dozen rings could announce the death of a pre-teenager who died in an accident and eighty rings would sadly announce the passing of a revered senior citizen.
That was then and this is now. The brave new world of today is larger and more complex. The newspapers and electronic news have replaced the bell tower. We know more about what happens in our world today, but distance separate us from the emotional effect of tragic events. We sit quietly in our recliners and read the headlines; a short flight away an earthquake has killed hundreds of people, a hurricane has leveled an entire island or an entire city. we watch and see children who are starving or are trying to cling to life as homeless orphans. Then we causally fold the newspaper and take the remote and change the channel of our TV to catch a football game or to see some make-believe actor perform make believe tragedies on make-believe stages.
And as we live on with lots of information but little feeling; so and so is dead but we didn't know him. A town we've never been to has sunk in a sea of mud and a distant nation of people starves to death for lack of bread.

Pastor's Monthly Message...September,2017

Inner Space

One of the most interesting and most captivating experiences of government in the last sixty years has been the exploration of outer space. I was reminded of this fairly recently when I again visited the Space Center in Houston Texas. At the time of this writing, the space program seems much less active than it once was but there is still a lot of interest in the mystery of outer space. And while there is so much to examine in outer space, there should also be a deep interest in our inner space, the seat of our thoughts, emotions, our inner soul. There is a great need to pay attention to this mystery as well. When we talk to each other about ourselves, we most often talk about ourselves as physical beings and forget that our spiritual self even exists or needs constant monitoring. We need to care as much for our inner selves as much as our bodies. Jesus said, "What does it profit a man if he gains the world and loses his soul."
We do need to make our lives more simple, to slow down, to handle our problems, one day at a time so that we do not become overburdened with all the adversities that life throws at us. We need to learn how to be alone with our thoughts and with ourselves. We can look for places as a refuge from the world but none is better than the retreat within ourselves and to find immediate tranquility there. As the hymn suggest, no situation can be too tough when "All is well with my soul".

Pastor's Monthly Message...July-August 2017

We Are Great When We Are Good

Over 200 years ago, America was still an experiment, a French philosopher named Alexis de Tocqueville came to examine and report back home the status on this new land and new government.
He made the comment that any society needs some kind of "glue" to hold it together; customs, history and faith. He said that any society needs a common bond. If the bond doesn't grow naturally, it is taken over by a totallitucian government that holds people together whether they like it or not.
In our land we have a wide open country with various nationalities, customs, tastes, and faiths, a people had a deliberately set out to leave their cities free. The idea was exciting but dangerous. The Frenchman and other people wandered what would keep this brew of freedom from turning every citizen into a government of his own. What would hold these states together? What would keep the powerful from imposing their will on the weak if there was no strong central authority to hold them in check? Why hadn't Americans split into a thousand squabbling factions? Or why had they not been locked into the iron grip of a dictator? Why were they succeeding so well?
De Tocqueville searched for an answer and this was the one thing he said, "Not until I went to the churches of America and heard the pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good and if ever America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great." De Tocqueville noted that it was this "goodness" that bound Americans together. Not a fiery fanaticism that turned one people against another, but love, concern and consideration of one American for another. He found a public and private acceptance that this was a nation voluntarily committing itself to the protection and guidance of others.

Pastor's Monthly Message...June,2017

For Our Graduates

Every year, about the last of May or first of June, our country witnesses the annual rituals of graduation ceremonies - a time which often signifies the end of formal education. But after graduation, many graduates soon realize they are freshmen again. The good life is a series of learning experiences. As the graduates enter college or the professional world, they would do well to build careers on a solid foundation of steady learning experiences and steadily developing talent. These are great satisfactions for the individual whose job is under control. There is only anxiety for the person whose job is not.
If schools or other learning institutions have done their jobs well, graduates will have developed habits of mind that will be useful in new situations throughout their lives - curiosity, open-mindedness, objectivity, respect for evidence, and the capacity to think critically. If society has created an atmosphere which encourages effort, striving, and vigorous performance, the chances are that our young people will expect much of themselves.
Part of that expectation will be to continue learning. Learning must be a lifelong companion so there will be continual self-renewal.
The truly educated person knows that happiness does not come from self-gratification, ease, comfort, diversion or a state of having achieved all of one's goals. Happiness involves the striving for meaningful goals-goals that relate the individual to a larger context of purposes, goals that call forth the full use of one's powers and talents. Graduation is, indeed a commencement. It is the beginning toward the best that life has to offer, the foundation of which is learning, and the summit of which is true knowledge.

Rev. Hans Lillejord

Pastor's Monthly Message...May,2017

Friends

Our friendships with each other is one of life's most meaningful gifts. A Greek poet once said, "Life has no gift or blessing like a prudent friend". How important are our relationships with our friends?
Interpersonal relationships are more important to us than most of us realize. When adults are asked to name the times when they were most happy, most seem to say that what makes them most happy or sad are personal relationship with other human beings. Those relationships can be more important than personal health, more important than work and more important than money or material things.
We all need stable relationships in our lives. Certainly there is value in an intimate friendship, even though we may risk being hurt by making ourselves vulnerable. Close friendships make us feel wanted and needed. They also help us discover that our own problems and feelings are not unique. Friends often have similar problems and joys to share.
Our lives are enriched through meaningful friendships. Perhaps more than any other factor, the quality of our human relationships determine the quality of our lives. This means that a high priority of our lives should be the building of significant relationships with family and friends through open and honest communication.
When we find ourselves in short supply of friendships, it is quite possible that we are not willing to devote our energies to it. We simply assume it will happen. But it doesn't. We need to take an interest in other people, and that requires time, effort and a deep concern.
Most of the time, we are somewhat guarded in what we share with each other. We often stick close to role-defined behavior or focus on our positive attributes to avoid rejection. If a relationship is going to develop, we have to take the risk of being honest with our feelings.

Pastor's Monthly Message.. April,2017

Face Your Fears
Life is an especially high - risk proposition. The stakes are extremely high. Total happiness or complete heartbreak is often a matter of difference in a step, a turn of a head, or an offhand decision. Misery may suddenly break upon our heads out of nowhere. We may display moments of confidence for one another, occasional acts of bravado, but is only the dishonest who never admit to fear in their lives. I believe that all of us dwell somewhere between comfortable security and fearful anxiety.
When we do meet with uncertainty, deep feelings of fear may arise. A full stomach may not please us today if we are not sure of tomorrows meal. but even in times of relative security, we can never forget how frail the heart is in the person we love most, how limited is our time together. We can never forget in our time of relative confidence how little we know, how prone we are to error. One philosopher said, "Man is but a reed - the weakest thing in nature...It is not necessary that the whole world should arm itself to crush him. A vapor, a drop of water is enough to kill him."
When life does have its terrifying moments, how do we survive them?
Eleanor Roosevelt said, "You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing which comes along." The real danger in our lives lies in refusing to face fear, in not daring to come to grips with it. If you fail anywhere along the line, it will take your confidence. You must do the thing you cannot do.

12809 New Sweden Church Road
Manor, TX 78653
Phone: 512-281-0056

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Rev. Hans J. Lillejord, Pastor
Cell Phone: 512-947-9044

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