Hungry Again

I recently ate at an Italian restaurant and they had a cute sign up, it said the trouble with Italian food is that you eat it and 3 or 4 days later you’re hungry again.  After laughing about it I was struck by how that sign could be used to reflect on life in general.  One of the things many people suffer from today is dissatisfaction with their lives.  Somehow nothing much seems to make us happy for very long.  We try this and we try that; we pick up this hobby and drop it before we really master it; we buy this toy or that suit or that dress and then after a while they just seem old to us; we start a career only to find it doesn’t seem to  be what we thought it would; even our personal relationships too often seem less than we think they ought to be, so we move on to the next one always believing the best grass is just over the fence.  But it never quite seems to be.  America is full of restless, dissatisfied and unhappy people.  And this sense of vague discontent is spreading as the changes in our society come ever faster and we are told by countless commercials and pundits that we have to get on the rocket to somewhere lest we be left behind.

It is unfortunate that so many folks we see everyday of our lives cannot be content.  The lack of contentment is like a disease that erodes our mental and spiritual health.  St. Paul spoke of himself as he addressed this issue. “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low and I know how to abound.”  Paul led a life of up and downs, great successes followed by disheartening failures, true friends and people who abandoned him.  Yet he could say he was content.  Why could he say this?  Well a few sentences after the last quotation he writes, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  Paul could be content however he found himself because he had the strength of God to see him through the hard times and help him rejoice in the good times.  He could be content because he wasn’t, as the old country song put it, looking for love in all the wrong places.

That, you see, is our trouble, we are always trying to find peace and contentment somewhere other than in the presence of Jesus Christ–and it isn’t there, wherever there might be.  You and I, we were made for God and our hearts are always going to be restless until they rest in Him.  Unless Jesus is your Rock and your Salvation you’re always going to be hungry again 3 or 4 days later.  People have the idea they can do very well without God or without His Church, but all the evidence is to the contrary.  So if you ever wonder why you can’t seem to go very long without getting “hungry” for something new, well, you’re just not seeking the right thing.  True freedom, true happiness, is only found in Jesus.

 

 

 

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The Time Has Come

In the Alice in Wonderland stories there is a bit that says “the time has come the Walrus said, to speak of many things, of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings, of why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings.”  I don’t know why but I always find this amusing and I use it when people strike me as talking nonsense.

There seems to me to be a lot of nonsense talking in the world today–especially amongst those who want to be ours secular leaders.  One of the Republican candidates for their party’s nomination was attacked last week over his shoes.  Now I understand we have to give these people a little leeway, but attacking someone’s shoes is at best infantile and at worse an insult to those who hear the attack.  Come on folks–do you really think we’re that stupid that we would care?

There’s also a lot of nonsense being spoken in the Church today.  I could write a pretty long statement about that, but I’ll just give one example right now.  People who profess to be in the Church, theologians and pastors mostly, have taken to denying the Atonement.  What, some of you may be asking, is the Atonement?  Well, it’s the idea that Jesus, the Son of God born of Mary, bore upon Himself the punishment for our sins when He died upon the Cross at Calvary.  His death brought about our life.

Well, some of the bright folks have decided that the idea of Christ dying for us is just way too fanciful.  One theologian even called it divine child abuse if it was true.  The problem with the arguments of the bright folks is that, if they are right, Christianity is a fraud.  If Christ did not pay the penalty for my sins or yours, then there is no Christian faith.  The best you can get is a sort of Unitarianism in which Jesus just becomes a great teacher.

This is not a big issue for the Church today–these doubters remain a small minority.  But we seem to find them more and more and to the degree they influence teaching in the Church they can do great harm to the faith of the people.  So, as Peter and Jude and John and Paul all write in the New Testament, we need to be vigilant, testing the spirits and knowing what it is that is being said.  We can’t just listen to the words people use, but we need to ask what they mean when they use those words.

That said–no one can defeat Christ’s Church.  The Lord Himself told us that not even the gates of hell could prevail against it.  Those whom Christ has chosen for His own cannot be lost (read John 6 and John 10).  That’s why it is so very wonderful to pick up the Bible, because we find the answers to lies, to distortions and to just plain ignorance that seems to waft around us.  Pigs don’t fly.  The sea isn’t boiling hot.  But Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  Amen.

 

It’s Cold Outside

Winter came late to our area this year. December felt more like March or April than the cold season. But now we’ve settled into a normal pattern. I even saw a car with snow on it yesterday. So, officially, it’s cold outside.

That makes me think of another kind of cold that we find outside the Church. That’s the cold that C. S. Lewis wrote about, where it’s always winter. The cold where the warmth of God’s love never enters in. The cold where people just live their lives focused on themselves and never find any deep meaningful relationships with others or with the God who made them. This selfishness and separation is a frightening kind of cold.

I know the temperature around me is cold when I can see my breath or when I have to scrape my windshield in the morning. I can also see how cold the world is when I see the news full of stories of death and destruction, of hatred and anger, of greed and a lack of concern for the needs of the least, last and lost, and I know how cold the world is when I see young people groping to find some sort of hope in a seemingly hopeless world.

Still, there is hope, there is warmth, there is life and it’s open to anyone who is moved to accept it. That hope, that warmth, that life is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. It is found no where else. You can look high and low all you want to, but the One who called Himself the Way, the Truth and the Life is, always has been, and always will be the light shining in a dark and very cold world.

Welcome

Today is January 4th and I am starting out on a new venture–I’m writing a blog. I have to admit I’m probably the least technologically sophisticated person in the blogosphere (see–I knew that phrase)  But I do think there are things I would like to say outside of my normal venues of sermons and newsletter articles.

For this first message I’ll be content to tell you who I am.  My name is Terry Culler and I am the pastor of St. Paul’s Free Lutheran Church in Leitersburg, MD.  We’re a small rural congregation affiliated with the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations (see aflc.org for more on them).  We have a website of our own–LeitersburgLutheran.org.

What I hope to share with you as we travel through the mysteries of the internet is the hope of life, joy and peace which can only be found in Jesus Christ.  This world is full of trials, troubles and irritants.  But when we turn our eyes toward Jesus, we see how this will all change for us and how we will be the people we were always meant to be.  That’s good news for a bad news world.