Pastor's Monthly Message

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.

Pastor's Monthly Message for January 2009

The Beauty of Not Having "Everything"

There was a time when not having everything was a virtue. "If we didn't have it, we did without", our grandparents said with pride. They talked of the Great Depression, of poverty, of bread lines and blackouts - of "doing without"

In the good old days, the first rule of life was thrift. Eat it all, wear it out, make it do. There were the maxims of survival.

In those days, it didn't occur to people that doing without was a handicap. By today's standards, many people in our past history were ill-fed, ill clothed, ill housed, and under-educated. And, under a modern philosophy now widely held by some too smart to be wise, these people were doomed to failure.

Fortunately, individuals from America's past saw virtue in their plight. They wokred and aspired as if there were more to success than environment; as if discipline and hard work were the pasts to prosperity, regardless of one's beginnings; as if they right to fail were as important as the freedom to succeed.

And so our ancestors toild on, believing that "doing without" was no great handicap; holding on to the outdated idea that a boy, any boy, could aspire to this nation's highest office, even a boy as undernourished as Abraham Lincoln; or that a person with as little schooling as Thomas Edison could still succeed in the field of science; or that an individual could do without the benefit of sight and sound and rise to become a master of literature and speech, and individual such as Helen Keller.

It was not "doing without" of course, that made these individuals great, but a rejection of the philosophy that success is dependent upon social, economic, or intellectual advantage.

It never occurred to Lincoln that the cards were staked against him, that because others had more money, more education, more status, they had the advantage.

Pastor's Monthly Message for December 2008

No Time for Panic

During the last months, we hear of financial meltdown, industries failing, foreclosures and a host of other threats. There are times when we don't know what our next move should be and there seems to be a time when organizations and individuals are driven to panic. When the situation is difficult and a quick response is called for, we all become very uneasy. We should like to turn and run. Gandhi once said, "Panic is the most demoralizing state anyone can be in".

Through the years people have panicked for many reasons and the results have usually been very negative. Panic is a sudden, overwhelming fear, once that makes us irrational and most of the time, irresponsible. We cannot think clear while in a state of panic.

To avoid the onset of this emotion, we must recognize some of the symptoms; a feeling of despair, the belief that there is no solution, and the conviction that we are alone without any help. Panic can occur suddenly, or it can build slowly and gradually erode common sense, leaving us stranded with our imagination running wild.

May of us still remember the panic created by Orson Wells, Ware of the Worlds - a great epic of fiction, but to many the fear it created was as real as if an invasion of the earth had actually taken place. When we don't have our facts straight, we lose contact with the world and panic sweeps in to control. True, a problem may exist, bu it is most often much less serious than we imagined. Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.

Pastor's Monthly Message for July and August 2008


It takes a lot of trust in the Lord as we go through life. There are many myths about growing old. They fear it as a time when they will be alone, bored, useless or ill. But old age is not that way for most people. The majority of persons beyond retirement age consider life satisfying and definitely worth living.

Researchers find that old age doesn't bring many surprises. People who are well adjusted in middle age tend to be well adjusted during the golden years. And there is a certain exhilarating freedom that comes with the senior citizen status. It is no longer necessary to strive for professional recognition, These individuals have earned a chance to relax, to savor life, and to do some things they want to do.

Enduring to the end, as God instructed, does not mean simply lying back and doing nothing. It means continuing to set goals, to work, and to contribute insight, prospective and experience. A wise observer once said that to often in aging, people do things for the last time and not for the first time. If we reverse that process, that is, try it for the first time at whatever age, we will have an effective antidote against growing old.

Here are a few thoughts to ponder: First, make plans for the future-long-range, long-range goals along with plans for today and tomorrow. Second, exercise can accomplish wonders. And remember the heart, like the body, also needs exercise. There is practically nothing more stirring than two elderly people in love, each still finding in each other those qualities which were admired in youth. Third, as we grow older, we become aware of how little we know, and with this awareness comes again the child's sense we know, and with this awareness comes again the child's sense of wonder-but with increased power of judgment and discrimination.

Pastor's Monthly Message - May 2008

Just a Mother

What a mistake it is to think that motherhood is an outdated or menial task, or that being a mother is not prestigious. Common sense rejects this false notion: history contradicts it; and truth disproves it. And yet, how often have we heard this apologetic response, "I am just a mother" as if the title needed defending.

Just a Mother...

"My boy is not stupid", said one such mother when her son brought home a note from a teacher, saying her boy was too stupid to learn. "I will teach him myself",she said. She produced Thomas Alva Edison. Just a mother brought refinement and culture into a nineteenth-century peasant cottage in Poland, Madame Curie, Nobel Prize winner and benefactor of mankind was the result. "All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother", concluded one man near the close of his life. A man who had spent his boyhood in a log cabin, and had gone to occupy this country's White House, and to save a nation, and emancipate people, Abraham Lincoln.

Just a Mother...

Men are what their mothers make them. Not governments, not schools, not churches, but mothers are the fundamental ARCHITECTS OF GREAT MEN AND GREAT WOMEN. To mothers alone is entrusted the awesome responsibility to train the mind of an Einstein, to light the poetic flame of a Longfellow, to instill the compassion of a Florence Nightingale, or to nurture the genius of Michelangelo. From wherever we stand, we look back toward the hazy dimness of our childhood whence we came, and with moist eyes, acknowledge the font of our learning and character: Our mothers. Just a mother acting confidently and responsibly in hr role as human engineer, who is un-fearful of ridicule, is unmindful of fame, and does what love bids will cast the shadow of her influence over the world.

- Pastor Hans Lillejord