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Pastor's Monthly Message


Pastor's Monthly Message for January 2010

A Way Home

Home is where the heart is. Home is where mother and father are. Home is where children play and think about the holiday past and wonder what bright and beautiful surprises lay ahead. Home is where we long to be and where we need to be, especially at Christmas time. The spirit of the season reminds us that we are members of a family, that we are brothers and sisters, sons and daughters.

Our world is such that we cannot always be home and there are many in this season who will not be with the ones they love. Our occupations, educations, and all other aspects of our life frequently draw us apart, separate us from the home we love.
But there is a way home — The birth of Christ promises us that way home and not merely in the ultimate sense. Although geography may come between us, our love for one another —which is a sign of the love of Christ — can make us one.

When Jesus prayed for his disciples shortly before his crucifixion, He said, "Neither pray I for thee alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word: that they may be one; as Thou, Father, art in me and I in Thee".
There is no substitute for being home but, just as "home is where the heart is" the heart can take us home, or nearly there. As Christ's love reaches across the time and distance of creation to call us home to our Father, so our love for one another can be a bridge between family members pulling us closer together, no matter how far we are apart.

So in a sense there is a way home to one another and to God. Though we have wandered far, the joy of Christmas is its promise that the star of Bethlehem is a true beacon and a sure way home. Because of Jesus, because of His birth and ultimate sacrifice, because of Christmas, no one need wander or wonder. No one is without home or a way to find it.

Pastor Hans Lillejord

Pastor's Monthly Message for December 2009

Home and Christmas

"Home" is a very special word for us. Home is where our parents are. Home is where children play and think about the wonderful Christmas season to come and all the bright and beautiful surprises which lie ahead. Home is where many of us long to be and where we need to be, especially at Christmas time. Christmas reminds us that we are members of a family, that we are all brothers and sisters, sons and daughters.
Our world is such that we cannot always be at home. There are many people during this season who have no home, cannot come home or will not be able to be with the ones they love and care for. Jobs, responsibilities, and other matters quite often keep us apart, or separate us from the home we long for.

There is, however, a way home. The birth of Christ promises us a way home. Although we might be separated by space, our love for one another, which is the emblem of the love of Christ, can make us one.

When Jesus prayed for His disciples just before he was crucified, He said, 'Neither do I pray for these alone, but for those also who believe in me through their word; that they may be one; even as you, Father, are in me and I in You."
There is no substitute for being home. The philosopher said, 'Home, is where the heart is" so we understand that the heart can take us home, or nearly there. As Christ's love reaches across the separation of time and distance to call us home to our Father, so our love for each other can be a bridge between family members, pulling us closer together, no matter how far apart we are.

So, in a sense, there is a way home to each other and to our heavenly Father. Though we might have wondered far, the joy of Christmas is its promise that the star of Bethlehem is a true beacon and a certain way home. Because of our Saviour, because of His birth and His ultimate gift upon the cross, because of Christmas, no one needs to wonder or wander; no one is without a home or a way to find it.

Pastor's Monthly Message for November 2009

A Most Basic Need

Our needs in life are many and varied not the least of which is prayer to almighty God. We say to the Lord, "Hear our prayer", not because he is in need, but because we are in need. Many times when we want to help others, it is because we, ourselves, are in want of something, the desire to be wanted and needed.

It is sometimes difficult to satisfy this need in our complex society, because our world has changed so much throughout the ages. So has the means of service. But the need to serve and give of ourselves has always remained.

We are most richly rewarded when we help others on a one-to-one basis. Modern living requires us to be dependant on others for most of which we have. But that dependence is usually on people we never see, quite a contrast to the earlier times when neighbors helped neighbors build their homes, till their soil and weave their fabric. The fact that our world is specialized and complex need not take away from us the opportunity to enrich ourselves by serving others and being served by them There is no opportunity to enrich ourselves by serving others and being served by them There is no faster way to get closer to a person than to be asked to do something for them. Ina way we are being told that we have a needed ability, a talent that is valuable.

Most of our deep and lasting friendships are built on our willingness to help someone in a moment of need-out of our need for each other. We truly appreciate an individual when we are able to do something for them.

Our involvement with others and the opportunity to serve them brings happiness. And it is most keenly felt when it is a person-to-person involvement through church service, volunteer work or simple neighborliness.

Yes, we need each other. But more than that, we need to be needed. Not so much because others need our help, but because we need the self-esteem and satisfaction of knowing that we have served our fellowman.

Pastor's Monthly Message for October 2009

Free To Follow Your Heart

Like the lion cubs in the movie "Born Free" you and I also have a need to follow our heart. We call it "conviction" which is the belief and testimony which give us the courage to challenge life.

Conviction does not come easily. There will always be other people who have a different point of view, different beliefs, and different standards. To be able to decide for ourselves and to establish our own operating principles is part of what it means to be "born free".

Varying options will always create divisions. At best, we will find others who share our convictions; at worst we will stand alone, sometimes even find it necessary to defend our beliefs at great personal cost. It is when we stand alone that we must examine our position most carefully. There is not much of a challenge in accepting what everyone else believes; the difficulty lies in defending an unpopular viewpoint-especially defending it to ourselves.

Part of that challenge is to know one is right. No one wants to be wrong, but determining what is right requires soul-searching effort. Sometimes, both sides are right, or partially right; sometimes neither side. And so each of us must arrive at our own conclusions, develop our own convictions. If we are sincere in our efforts, we will rely both on logic and prayer. In order to have deep convictions we must trust the Holy Spirit to give us guidance.

There is something else we need to remember. We cannot condemn another person because they disagree with us. Even if we think them wrong, we should give them credit for their beliefs. No one should be faulted for acting in a way he honestly believes he should. Leaders are often placed in a precarious position of carrying out the will of the people while not violating their own personal beliefs. Sometimes, there is no choice, as one's conscience will not allow him to do other than what his convictions dictate.

Pastor's Monthly Message for September 2009

Reflections Upon Visiting Friends

During the last two weeks, I had the privilege to spend some amount of time with a large number of people who have been friends for some time, a visitation to past habitations where new acquaintances developed into friendships. Perhaps not enough has been said of these others with whom we share this world, our awareness, our feelings, hopes and joys.

The word "friend" has several synonyms, comrade, chum, confident, companion. A friend is one with whom we feel safe. A friend has seen beyond the shallow facade of our protective mask to the depths of our griefs and fears, to the heights of our joys and ambitions, and loves us still.

To accumulate wealth is noteworthy; to f succeed at business is something; but he who has a friend has done extremely well for himselWith this achievement he has doubled his joy while dividing his sorrow. He who has a friend has at once gained fame and honor.

It was the great Napoleon who claimed that he neither made nor needed friends. It was the same victorious monarch who spent the last years of his life in miserable solitude as a friendless outcast, alone with his arrogance and greed. He had conquered much of the civilized world but died without a single friend to mourn his passing. On the other hand, when asked to reveal the secret of his long and beautiful life, Charles Kingsley replied, "I have a friend".

In truth, even one good friend can tilt the scale of life toward happiness, regardless of what other acquisitions we may or may not have gained. When we are insecure and afraid, we cannot turn to wealth or comfort. It is not fame who will visit us in maturity to discuss politics and grandchildren. Our possessions will feel no loss at our death, but our friends will.

Pastor's Monthly Message for July 2009

Why We Celebrate

The pride that the citizens of the United States of America have in this country is most apparent each July as flags are unfurled and fireworks light up the sky. It's a time when our citizens contemplate their citizenship- a citizenship many people throughout this world would be most gracious to share.

The founding fathers of America believed that the most important thing in the world was a government in which the freedom and liberty of the individual was closely protected. They believed that this freedom was basic to individual development and happiness. They also believed that each person has an obligation to serve society, to assist in that government that helps guarantee our freedoms.

Without a doubt, responsibility comes with freedom. We must try to do the right thing as we see it without infringing upon the freedom of others. Since no one is perfect, freedom can be abused. This is why we have rules in this society – because absolute freedom can lead to anarchy and no society can or will survive in such a state.

The emphasis on the rights, freedoms and the dignity of each individual shows up often in all our great documents. We start by declaring, "We hold these truths to be self evident; that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." We live by this freedom theme and hold dearly to the sacredness and dignity of each individual. Ours is a government of the people, by the people, for the people.

Pastor's Monthly Message for May 2009

Control Your Temper

There is in each of us the seed of self-control, the power to be master of our own character, to act according to our conscience. But there is also a passion which often gets in the way of self-mastery. It is the loss of one's temper, and it has resulted in more tragedy and sorrow than almost any other trait. William Jordan said, "The second most deadly instrument of destruction is tht gun, the first is the human tongue."

We all have tempers. They area quality of disposition, an integral part of our character. But they must be regulated, because the degree to which we have mastery over ourselves is always measured by how well we control our tempers. "Temper, if ungoverned," said Anthony Cooper, "governs the whole man."

There will always be a need to control our disposition, perhaps more so today because of man's increasing and varied knowledge. We must not leave our tempers unchecked when there are varied knowledge. We must be tolerant of others. We must not leave our tempers unchecked when there are differences of opinion. Lord Chesterfield wrote, "A man who cannot command his temper should not think of being a man of business." And we could add, a man of politics, or public service, or education as well.

There is not doubt that it takes courage to control one's temper. Many say that a quick release of temper is a safety valve for inner tension. But the danger, of course, is the hurt which can be caused by a moment of anger, and the regret which comes when we regain our composure.

Perhaps we should remember the words of the great 17th Century Spanish philosopher Baltasar Grecian, "Never act in passion. If you do, all is lost. You cannot act for yourself if you are not yourself and passion always drives out reason. As soon as you notice that you are losing your temper, beat a wise retreat."

Pastor Hans Lillejord

Pastor's Monthly Message for April 2009

Among the most poignant passages of scripture is also the shortest. In the Gospel of John is a short verse which describes Christ's response to the death of one of His friends. The verse is simply, "Jesus wept". On that occasion, Jesus shed tears for a single friend whom He loved. The event openly displays Christ's capacity to love and feel sorrow for those around Him.

It was not long after this tragedy that Christ faced His own imminent death. Shortly before the crucifixion He went with His disciples to a place called Gethsemane. There In prophetic agony He witnessed the passing of peoples, of all nations, of us. He understood that this commandment that we love one another even as He loved us would largely be rejected by mankind. Once, twice, and for a third time He returned to His friends to share the awesome burden; each time He found them asleep. Alone, He took upon Himself the sins of the world, suffering for all generations of humanity. And In the depths of divine despair, He wept.

He wept for the countless unknown soldiers of many wars and their orphaned children, their widowed wives and grieving parents. He wept for the maimed in body and spirit in the impersonal cities, for the aged in nursing homes who wait for visitors who never come and for the meek and the trusting who are taken advantage of by the criminal and unscrupulous. He wept because of the ignorance that has made-much of humankind live out their lives in political and intellectual slavery, and because of superstition still keeps man in spiritual bondage.

For all these things and for much more, the Savior of mankind suffered untold agony. Across the centuries of time, the lonely figure of Jesus stood weeping as He did in the Garden. And so today, also, as we, His disciples sleep, He weeps for us.

Pastor Hans Lillejord

Pastor's Monthly Message for March 2009

Overcoming Discouragement

A characteristic aspect of people who succeed is an unwillingness to admit defeat Many a cause has been won after the cause seemed hopeless simply because there was a soul who refused to be discouraged, who saw beyond defeat the bright hope of success and believed in it.

Of course, success and defeat are both a part of life. The only persons who have never failed are those who have never tried; the only ones who have not tested the bitter legacy of failure are the ones who have not risked devotion to a cause. They who would succeed must understand defeat and not be defeated by it It is possible to know defeat and not be defeated by it, because in the words of a hymn, "There is a Balm in Gilead" there is a moment of succeeding and hope beyond all our momentary failures and despair.

Too often we are impressed by the limitations of our lives; too often we focus on failed dreams and unfulfilled expectations. Too often we see not the seacoast-the vast and hopeful bounty of the sea-but we see sand that slips through our fingers and cannot be held.

Certainly there are those who have talents and abilities greater than our own; there are those who have suffered less, who have gained more. But God does not measure us one against another. He does not value our lives in the context of others living.

As the hymn promises and persuades us:
If you cannot sing like angels,
If you cannot preach like Paul,
You can tell the love of Jesus,
And say "He died for us all".

God did not make us to be defeated. Indeed, He sent His Son as a sacrifice so that we, in the end, might succeed. That ultimate success does not mean there will not be moments of failing. But we are inspired by the light of Christ to take hope in over succeeding, to not be too quick to have failure define our experience, and to realize that failure does not in itself constitute defeat.

Pastor's Monthly Message for February 2009

Sadness is Useful

Sadness and melancholy are feelings we would generally avoid if we could. Joy and sorrow are mixed and stirred together to make up the substance of our life. The Roman poet, Ovid, knew that fact when he wrote, "No pleasure is unalloyed, some trouble even intrudes upon our happiness". And modern psychology seems to confirm this view point. Dr. Norman Bradburn wrote, "Happiness is a combination of the relative strengths of positive and negative feelings rather than an absolute amount of one or the other".

Happiness seems universally accepted as a desirable state in our lives, but what is the purpose of sadness? The somewhat pessimistic preacher of Ecclesiastes had high praise for sorrow when he wrote, "Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better" (Ecc 7:3). It could be debated whether sorrow is better than laughter, but most certainly it has times, unappreciated value in our lives. We can learn lessons in moments of melancholy that would escape us if all our days were filled with sun and smiles - lessons of patience, endurance, long suffering, and courage in the face of adversity. And these lessons we might well ponder in our pleasure seeking world.

We are daily indoctrinated to believe that sadness is unnatural. That life should be one steady stream of joy and laughter, and that if we are not happy; there is something wrong with us. This shallow view of life can lead us to unfortunate conclusions. Young married people may seek divorce at the first signs of difficulty, not knowing that every marriage has its problems. Others of us may go deep into debt to try and buy our way out of depression.

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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