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January 2014

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Birthday

Parting Words to My Spiritual Family

“My children, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. Proverbs 4:20-27

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Those of you who are close to Grace’s ministry know that as of the end of 2013 Ellen and I resigned our calls to as Pastor and teacher, or as we have been called, we are no longer Pastor and Mrs. Grace Lutheran. As we freeze here in Wisconsin and wait for the next chapter of our lives we have some very bitter sweet memories of our time in Grenada. Just yesterday and a song on the radio got my eyes leaking. I doubt if anyone on the snow covered highway that day was playing Romain Virgo or Chronix. These songs immediately bring some very special people to mind.

People have asked me about the blog and what will happen to it now that I am gone, because it is what kept them up with what was going on at Grace. I have no answer for that now. But it made me think about what I wanted to say in the final blog. Final words, like Jesus’ words in the upper room in the gospel of John, are powerful. So I wanted to choose carefully what was most on my heart. I also wanted to say some things to the youth with whom I spent so much time mentoring and put it in a place they could read in the future.

The month has been like someone sticking a very painful knife into our hearts. This is exactly what the Devils wants, for us to have wounded and bleeding hearts. It is his way to divide and destroy. Do not let him win. Focus on what is next and how you can grow. Celebrate the good things God has done for us and through us and the precious time we had together and the things we learned from each other. What did we learn? That Jesus heals hearts, that you are loved, and that what you do and say matters a lot in God’s world and family. YOU ARE LOVED. YOU MATTER.

The Devil does not want you to believe this. He is whispering always in our ears that we are worthless and that we are just here to survive. It’s all meaningless so get whatever you can for yourself. That is why Solomon in the verse above says, “Guard your heart, because everything comes from there.” God made your heart clean and good. Guard it! When we decide to lie (even just a little lie), or to steal something (even borrowing it for a while), or when we say something that ruins some else’s reputation, or we assume the worst about someone, or take advantage of a situation for our own selfish interests, or when we give in to sexual temptation, we make an agreement with the devil. “Devil, your way is the best in this situation and I am walking in it.” Agreements with the devil are dangerous, even if we don’t realize it is happening, because then he gets a foothold in our heart. Like an invasion of your heart he lands and does not give it up easily. He builds a stronghold and waits until he can capture some more land in our heart at a later date. Before you know the devil is dug in and has a big claim on something God has washed clean in his blood. You must fight this! Guard your hearts. Stay focused on God’s way, the only safe way, and His word as a desperately needed weapon to defend yourself.

Staff Xmas Party

Do not let the Devil divide you. You have developed wonderful friendships, especially the youth, and all this is centered on God’s love for you. He showed you how and gave you this gift. The Devil cannot harm you if you stick together, share burdens, support each other, and hold each other accountable. Do not settle for a church family that only says hi once a week, but keep the closeness we shared, pray for each other. Guard each other’s backs. Or as Jesus says in his final words, “Love one another. People will know you are mine if you love one another.” The Devil knows how powerful and dangerous this is to him and he does whatever he can to separate us, close up our hearts, and keep us from trusting each other. Don’t let him have His way.

On our last Sunday we sang, “Lord, I Give You My Life”. My wish has always been that those are more than just words which you sing so well. Jesus gave His life so you can say that and actually do it fueled by the Spirit. Not only is this a good idea, but if you do not do it, you put yourself at risk to Satan’s nasty attacks and they will come as you have seen. Because I know this is important I am not going to leave you and forget you. I will stay in touch with your lives, continue to care about what is going on, pray for you, encourage to follow your new shepherd, and everything else a good father would do for you. I love you and as long as I live, I will never forget you. Thank you for sharing that love, it is precious to me. Goodbye for now and a big welcome to Pastor Jason and Judy who are serving as the vacancy pastor and first lady. God bless you all!

Jasonfam

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