There has been much rejoicing in recent months because the price of gasoline has greatly decreased. News articles mention the plummeting prices of countries that furnish crude oil. This has also had a positive impact on car sales. People are more apt to buy cars that consume less gasoline.
Petroleum based products propel many cars and will soon heat many homes. This leads to a more important question – what "fuels" God's people. The answer sounds overly simple but has always been true. Jesus living in us gives us energy for the tasks we are privileged to carry out. The Apostle Paul put it this way, "The love of Christ compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died" (II Corinthians 5:14). God works several great miracles. He sent Jesus to redeem us. He sent the Holy Spirit to cause us to believe in Jesus!. Jesus lives in us to give us strength for present and future service.
The prophet Isaiah put it this way, "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" (Isaiah 40:29-31). How does God do this? The way he has always done it. Fuel for the present and the future comes through Word and Sacrament. The best mileage comes when you are a student of the Scriptures. Fill your tank regularly in worship, personal Bible reading and/or group study.
Family meltdowns are not rare occurrences. You may have just had one while on vacation. When they occur the "what now" separate the leaders from the followers. Anyone can usually lead when things are quiet and peaceful. When conflict abounds, however, leadership is scarce. When you are a man in a family, it isn't fair to pass the buck. What to do?
Leaders go first. They go first calming down, listening to others, listening to God's Word, apologizing, and forgiving. If they don't go first, they can't lead anybody. Jesus clearly taught this in a striking metaphor. He said: "How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye', when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye" (Matthew 7: 4, 5). Once the leader goes through repentance, he is capable of leading others through it after him.
Leaders deal more with attitudes than with behaviors. It is not enough that a father keep the children from misbehaving in the car or out in public. He wants them to learn how to crucify their sinful flesh with its evil desires and to love one another with pure and humble hearts. So he must focus on attitudes more than behaviors. This kind of leading is more labor intensive, but it yields a much bigger harvest.
Leaders duplicate themselves. Someday today's boys will lead their own families. I'm guessing their families will have meltdowns too. When that happens we want them to visualize our family meetings—their dad speaking the words of God, apologizing, asking for forgiveness and forgiving. As a father/leader you want them to see you studying God's Word, speaking to people in God's name, serving your wife, and loving the unlovable. Such a leader does the right thing, regardless of the consequences. For a godly man, it's never okay to quit leading even in the face of negative consequences.
Leaders at home make leaders at church. We are tempted to think that we can lead well at church even when we are poor leaders at home. We muse that if we had different people at home, there wouldn't be any problems. That just isn't true. Remember what Paul said: "If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?" (1 Timothy 3:5). God says, "Get it right at home before you come to help me at church." Finally, leaders follow the Leader. Leading can be a lonely job. But we are not alone. We are following our leader and Beautiful Savior, Jesus, who was the first to give, to love, and to forgive. He lovingly leads all of us with his forgiveness and his Word. Next time you get to lead, remember that in one sense you are not really leading at all. You're just following the Savior, who is with you every step of the way!
J.A.M. stands for Jesus in the Afternoon for Me. J.A.M. is a Wednesday after-school program for children in grades 1-5. All are welcome to attend especially those who do not have a church home or Sunday school.
Children gather in St. Paul's fellowship hall after arriving from their school (they can get shuttled by bus from their school to St. Paul’s--Ask your child’s bus driver for details). The sessions begin with a snack, free time (games), a Bible lesson (beginning around 3:50), singing and craft. Children are to be picked up at 5:00 p.m. You can register your child when you bring them or by clicking the link below to our online registration form.
J.A.M. is FREE and a fun way for your child to learn valuable lessons for life and bring them closer to God.
For more information click on the link below to the J.A.M. handbook or call St. Paul's church and school office 783-2552 extension 0.