Choosing What is Better

“But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.”

– Luke 10:40a NIV

Luke tells us that Martha had opened her home to Jesus and his disciples. Custom required that she welcome them properly, and this was no small undertaking. Martha was busy seeing that all the details of meals and lodging were suitably observed. When she had invited Jesus, she most likely was counting on her sister, Mary, to help make his visit a success. However, Mary made a different choice. From the moment that Jesus arrived, she had focused her attention on him. Seated there at his feet, she listened intently to all that he had to say.

Martha was piqued. When she discovered Mary sitting “idly” at Jesus’ feet, she was no longer able to contain her anger. She admonished Jesus, saying, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” Her outburst betrayed her. She wasn’t the gracious hostess she sought to be. She not only accused her sister of laziness, but at the same time she accused her guest of being uncaring. She demanded that he remedy the household situation!

Martha’s distraction, I believe, came partly from her personal list of musts and shoulds. We all have such a list. They include the way that we feel particular tasks must or should be done. They are the best ways of doing things, our way, a way that grants our personal stamp of approval and helps us feel good about ourselves. We invest much personal energy in our way of doing things, the personal energy that Jesus encountered in Martha’s outburst. While the standards of Jewish hospitality could have been met adequately by her household servants and friends, Martha’s personal list became her distraction. She needed to oversee things personally to make sure they were done properly. Martha had lost her focus on spiritual things. Jesus was at Bethany. By fulfilling her own agenda, she was about to miss being with him.

Jesus didn’t go to Bethany to approve Martha’s hospitality. He doesn’t come to judge our way of doing things, either. On the contrary, he comes to free us from the personal anxieties and habits that rule our lives, separate us from others, and distract us from our relationship with him. Do you know what is on your list? Ask him to show you. Once he shows you, ask for his help to choose what is better.

Prayer: Lord, give me eyes to see the things on my agenda that separate me from others and from you. Give me grace to give them to you, and to find your peace. Amen.

In His Peace,

Pastor Schultz


This Is Living Today and Forever!

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” – John 11:25-26

We get confused about the word life. “That’s life” often means, “Too bad, that’s the way it is.” Or we might say, “What a life” meaning, “This is wonderful.” We all value life. We hold onto it as long as we can, and we mourn its loss. Sometimes we are under the mistaken idea that life consists of who we are, what we have, what we do, and whom we know. If those are our thoughts, then these words of Jesus make no sense.

Earlier in this Gospel he told his disciples, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly: (John 10:10). He was speaking to people who were full of physical life. So obviously he meant something else when he used the word.

Jesus, in claiming to be the source of life, is talking about another kind of life. It is not limited to tangible or physical things, but rather to those defined by the spirit. There is an eternal of spiritual life that we can live while we are continuing to live in this present world. That kind of life comes from a close relationship with the source of life-Jesus. It can be described by its qualities–inner peace, honesty, hope and expectancy, a sense of the constant presence of God, direction and purpose, fulfillment, contentment, joy.

While telling Mary and Martha that their brother would physically rise from the dead, even more important, he was offering spiritual life to them.

Lent is a time for Christians to see how sin has made our earthly life empty and shallow. Holy Week reveals the depth of God’s love as he ransoms us from our lives to give us his life. Easter is our celebration of God’s gift of new life.

This month as we continue Lent may it lead us through the awe of Holy Week to the shout of Easter “THIS IS LIVING!”

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I receive your offer of life. Fill me with your life today. Amen.

In His Peace,

Pastor Schultz


Righteousness and Repentance

“I tell you that there will be in heaven over more rejoicing one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
– Luke 15:7

It is clear from the two parables that Jesus uses in Luke – the lost sheep and the lost coin – that he values repentance over righteousness. That may seem strange to us, since the New Testament exhorts us again and again to live god- ly and righteous lives. Yes, as followers of Christ we are to strive to live daily in a manner as free from sin and darkness as possible. In this process of sanctification we need daily help from the Holy Spirit, who helps us recognize our sin, convicts us of it, and gives us the power to turn aside from its alluring temptation.
But Jesus values repentance even more highly, since it is through repentance that we can meet him and he can return us to a close relationship with him. We are the lost sheep, we are the lost coin. We wander away from time to time. We get lost in dark corners. We cannot find our way back. So in his great love, he comes to find us. In his mercy, he forgoes punishment and leads us back to the light, to the security of the sheepfold, and to the place of usefulness.
It is when we acknowledge that we have gone astray that Jesus comes to our rescue. It is then that we rediscover his mercy and love. We are like foolish sheep when we deny that we need his saving. We will remain lost when we fail to be honest about the state of our soul or about our dangerous circumstances. Sometimes he allows us to wander off until we are in danger. He waits for us to call out desperately to him before he reaches out to save us. He is always there. His love is constant, as he waits for us to express our need.

Prayer: Lord, help me to confess my sin and lead me in repentance back to you. Amen

In His Peace, Pastor Schultz


Keep on Believing

“Do not be seized with alarm and have no fear, only keep on believing.” – Mark 5:36b

Jairus took a considerable risk when he prostrated himself before Jesus and begged for his daughter to be healed. After all, he was a leader of the synagogue, a respected man schooled in the law, a righteous man who knew what God expected of his people and what they could expect of God. In Jerusalem the Pharisees and the scribes had condemned Jesus for healing on the Sabbath, claiming Jesus was possessed by Satan. For Jairus to acknowledge Jesus’ power to heal was to separate himself from all those other religious leaders who denied who Jesus was. And yet, Jairus found himself in such need on that day, that he forgot all the “right” reasons that would have kept him from bowing before Jesus’ feet. Instead, he chose to hope for healing for his beloved daughter, who was at the point of death.

Nevertheless, Jairus would have bigger battles to face before the end of the day. Before Jesus could reach his home to lay hands on Jairus’ daughter, the news had come to them: “Your daughter has died.” Knowing how much Jairus was suffering at this point, Jesus encouraged him, “Do not be seized with alarm and have no fear, only keep on believing.”

Jesus knew that the healing that Jairus had sought for his daughter had suddenly become impossible for an earthly mind. It was one thing for Jairus to believe that Jesus could heal his daughter; it was entirely another for Jairus to believe that Jesus could bring his daughter back from death. Yet Jesus told him simply and directly to “keep on believing.”

God, the one who gives us the gift of faith and all that is necessary for us to believe, is prompting Jarius to use what God has given him. We know that nothing is too hard for the Lord. We can all say those words and our minds can assent to their plausibility. Still, believing requires more than our minds. Believing requires our hearts and our wills. Believing requires that our passions line up with the words we have said and the testimonies we have made. Believing requires submitting all that we are to the one who can transform us into a believing people of faith.

What obstacles are you facing in your walk with Jesus that require him to say to you, “only keep on believing?” Are you discouraged about your life? Do you fear for others? When Jairus cast himself at Jesus’ feet, Jesus took him up and carried him through to the end of his fears. Jairus would never again be the same. Jesus will do the same for you and for me. We must learn to depend on Jesus for the work of faith he wants to perform every day in our lives so we can keep on believing.

Prayer: Jesus, you are bigger than my unbelief. Build within me a heart of faith I believe help my unbelief. Amen.

Pastor Schultz


The Gift of Simplicity

“Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Mark 10:15)

This time of year, as a new school year begins, many are focused on the task of teaching children. Jesus however reminds us how important it is to learn from children.

Jesus used the occasion of people bringing little children to him as an opportunity to give his followers a needed lesson. The lesson concerned the importance of right attitude in receiving the kingdom of God. Jesus told them that “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” For any parent or teacher of young children it is clear that the Lord was thinking of their marvelous capacity for wonder and their receptivity for listening and learning. The psalmist expressed these same thoughts in writing about God’s glory above the heavens being chanted “by the mouths of babes and infants” (Ps 8:2)

How wonderful is this gift of simplicity and spontaneity that we see in some children! How blessed are those adults who have been able to maintain this childlike quality of life! I have come to discover that my hobby as a bird watcher has aided my life long faith learning in the same way. Bird watching requires you to be totally involved. Listening and looking in silence as you gather as much information as you can about the subject you are focused on for as long as you are allowed. Size, beak, wing bars, tail, coloration, feet, location of markings, habitat, song, call, eyes, and flight pattern. What is familiar and what have you never noticed before. I use the same approach with the word of God.

Many of us allow our busy lives and the cares of the world to so crowd our lives that we lose this childlike simplicity. The story in Scripture makes it clear that in this respect the disciples had lost their simplicity. Preoccupied with their own agendas, preconceptions, egos, and intellect, they considered the children to be an interruption to an important theological discussion they where having with Jesus. That is why our Lord was indignant with their insensitivity to the needs of the children and the attitude with which they approached him. “Anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it”

Our Father, we pray that the simplicity of Jesus would be the hallmark of our lives. May our knowledge and intel- lect never be barriers to our continuing growth in our faith and life with him. Amen

In His Peace, Pastor Schultz