“These Christians honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (Matthew 15:8)
Most people in the U.S. still want to be labeled Christian. They want grandma and grandpa or mom and dad to be happy that they consider themselves a Christian. They want to be able to think they are going to heaven because they are “Christian.” Yet, Jesus says that many will “honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”
Most people don’t pretend to be Green Bay Packer fans. They either are or they are not. Most people don’t pretend to like liver. They either do or they don’t. Most people don’t claim to be Republicans when they are really Democrats. Yet, so many say they are Christian but really aren’t in their heart or mind.
A person who is a Christian follows Christ. They seek to follow Christ in all aspects of their life. They seek to follow His word. They seek to reflect His will. A Christian is not, simply some who says they believe that Jesus died for them and rose again so they can go to heaven. A Christian is a person who desires to follow Christ and honor Christ with their life.
How about you? Do you honor Christ with your lips only or your life?
On Thursday (Aug. 23) we will be taking our oldest daughter, Sarai, to her first year of college at Concordia University Wisconsin in Mequon (near Milwaukee). She plans to study social work. She’s nervous. We’re nervous. She’s excited. We’re excited for her. I’m sure we will all shed a tear or two.
This is what we are supposed to do though, isn’t it? We are to train them up the best we can and then let them go, send them off into the big, wide world. Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Am I worried about the choices Sarai will make in college? Not really. I’m sure she’ll do some things that she won’t tell me about until I’m 60 or 70 years old but for the most part I’m not worried. Schawn and I have trained her up in the way she should go. We have trained her up in the Word of God. We have trained her up to love the things of God. She loves God and loves living her life, to the best of her ability, according to the Word of God.
Everyone is tempted. Everyone is pulled away from God’s ways by peers, by media and even by those in authority over us at times. Everyone makes mistakes but when we train up our children to love God, love and know His Word, spend time in His Word and show a commitment to worship then our children have a greater chance of following in our footsteps.
I will say that I am also very, very thankful that she is going to a Christian University. I know there are lots of great things about state schools. They have great programs. They have highly acclaimed professors. They have great sports teams. They usually are cheaper than a Christian university but it really is a joy to hear the faculty at Concordia talk about teaching everything from a Christian perspective and bringing Christ into all they do. It’s really amazing to hear the faculty and staff talk about praying for the freshman class and wanting the best for each and every one of them. It’s wonderful to hear them speak about their door always being open for the students and knowing that Sarai has a good chance of getting advice based on the Word of God from anyone on staff that she chooses to speak to there.
The bottom line is that God calls us to train up our children and then let them go. We do all we can to teach them how to be successful in life but even more important how to love and honor God with their life and then when it comes that time we let them go.
May each one of us take seriously God’s call on our lives to train up our children to love and honor Him. (And say a prayer for the Starfeldt family on Thursday).
I heard about a study recently that said couples who experience something new on a date have a closer connection after that date than if they do what they normally do on a date. One couple had decided to go on a flying trapeze experience instead of doing the typical dinner and a movie. Yes. They actually tried out swinging on some flying trapeze swings. The wife thought her husband was crazy at first but decided to go along with it. They talked about how amazing the experience was and how they were laughing all the way home about this crazy experience they had together.
I think this could apply well to our faith also. It might be time to try a new thing in order to go deeper in your faith. If the only thing a person does to grow their faith is go to church for year after year then their faith is going to be limited by that one faith growth experience. I know that as I think over my adult life many of the times my faith really grew were times I tried new things such as a small group bible study experience or a Christian retreat or a Christian book everyone was talking about. We have lots of new programs starting this fall (Financial Peace, ReEngage Marriage Ministry, Rooted Discipleship Experience, Divorce Care, Grief Care). Click here to sign up. Lots of ways for you to try something new. A new faith enriching experience can grow your faith in ways it has not grown for years.
In August, my oldest daughter, Sarai, heads off to college at Concordia Wisconsin in Mequon, WI. Talk about trying something new. As her father, I am nervous for her and I am sure it will be a very difficult day when we drop her off. But at the same time, I am very excited for her, she is ready, we have grounded her well and she is ready to take that next step. She is going to experience many new things. Some of the new things at college will challenge her faith and some of the new things will grow her faith. I am thankful she is going to this wonderful Lutheran University and has an opportunity to grow in her faith in all kinds of new ways.
So try something new this fall. Engage with your faith in a new way and watch it grow.
Pastor Chad Starfeldt
Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran
Someone recently asked me, “Is it good to pray for the recovery of a person who is sick with an incurable disease?” My question back: “Is there a disease that is incurable for the Almighty God?” It says in Luke 1:37 “With God nothing is impossible.”
We hear in God’s Word about the “incurable” leper who asked for help in Mark 1:40 and Jesus healed him. Blind Bartimaeus at Jericho’s gate asked for help and was cured. (Mark 10:46) These situations and may others from God’s Word are historical evidence of God curing what humans thought were incurable situations.
Our Almighty God is still powerful, still active, still healing. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
It is very appropriate to pray with all confidence: “Lord, please heal ______ if it be according to your will.” There are many, many miraculous stories of people being healed when it seemed all that all hope was gone. We never know if God is going to heal a person for more time yet on earth or for their eternity in heaven.
Put down your smart phone or ipad! I have spoken with so many couples who are struggling with their marriage and often times one of them will say “I wish he would put down his phone and talk to me instead of checking the latest sports stats all the time.” “I wish she would put her phone away while we’re watching a show together instead of being more interested in what’s on Facebook than what’s going on in the show.”
When we are on our phone when our spouse is trying to talk with us or spend time with us, what is that communicating? It is communicating that “What I am looking at on this phone is more important than you.” That is not a good message to send to your spouse. That is a message that will wear cracks in your marriage over time.
A recent study said that the more you use your phone the less secure your spouse will feel in the relationship. Be a blessing to your spouse and put down the phone when they are talking with you or want to spend time with you. [http://time.com/4311202/smartphone-relationship-cell-phone/]
The bottom line is God tells us to “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” in Ephesians 5:21. Part of submitting to one another is putting away our own selfishness during a conversation and giving our spouse 100% of our attention. Part of loving your spouse is giving them the attention they desire.
Your spouse doesn’t want to talk to the top of your head. Your spouse doesn’t want to watch a show or movie with you and every time something funny happens you lift up your head from your phone and say ”What? What happened? What’s so funny?” Improve your marriage today by putting away the smart phone and talk to your spouse.
Pastor Chad Starfeldt
Next to Jesus Christ, Santa is probably the most visible figure during the holidays, also know as Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle and Father Christmas. Dating back to the third century as a priest and bishop in the church, St. Nick is attributed with doing many benevolent and charitable acts of kindness and generosity.
Revered and honored by many around the world, St. Nick has a resume of accomplishments and good deeds even the most celebrated saint would be envious of.
St. Nicholas was born in Patara, Turkey in 270 A.D. His wealthy parents died when he was young. St. Nicholas used his inheritance to travel to the Holy Land to learn more about the Savior Jesus. He then used his parents wealth which he inherited to care for the poor and needy, in particular presenting the three impoverished daughters of a pious Christian with dowries so that they would not have to become prostitutes. He was very religious from an early age and devoted his life entirely to Christianity.
The custom of gifting to children at Christmas was propagated by Martin Luther as an alternative to the previous very popular gift custom on St. Nicholas day, to focus the interest of the children to Christ instead of the veneration of saints. But Nicholas remained popular as gifts bearer for the people.
Santa was first a faithful follower of the baby Jesus. He was a Christian, a priest, a Christian leader. He never would have wanted to take away from the message of Jesus, the Savior who was born at Christmas.
In the end what St. Nick has set down for us all is a lifestyle of service and going the distance for the Lord Jesus Christ. St. Nick took his faith to the streets and made a difference-a worldwide difference-as a follower of Christ.
Pastor Chad Starfeldt
Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran
This months blog post from me is going to be really short because I mostly want to hear from you. I want to hear your questions.
I want you to shape my blog posts for the future by giving me the questions you want answered.
Your question can be close to anything as long as it has some relationship to God, Jesus, living out our Christian faith or the Bible. Here are some example questions you might submit:
Pastor Chad Starfeldt
You might know someone who says they believe in God but they live as if God does not exist. 7 out of 10 Americans say they believe in Jesus but many of them don’t live like they are followers of Jesus.
If I say I am a follower of the Green Bay Packers than I do things that a fan of the Green Bay Packers does.
I watch the games. I read about the team. I watch news reports about the team. I go to a few games every year. I talk to other people about the Packers. I wear Green Bay packer stuff.
If a person says they are a Christian then their life should show that they are a follower of Jesus Christ. They should go to worship. They should read the Bible. They should spend time in prayer. They should share their faith with others. A Christian should serve others and God.
A person who says they believe in God but doesn’t live to honor Him might be called a Cultural Christian or a Christian Atheists.
Titus 1:16 says “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.”
When we claim to know God our actions need to follow that claim. Do you say you are a Christian? Does your life show that you are a Christian?
1 John 2:3-4 says “We know that we have come to know Him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.”
When we know God deeply we want to spend time with Him because there is no one as loving, forgiving and as powerful as Him.
If you are married and are in love with your spouse then you want to spend time with him or her. You enjoy doing things together. You enjoy spending time with each other. You like to do some of the same things. You get each other gifts. You miss each other if you are apart for an extended period of time.
The same should be true with your relationship with God. If you really know Him and love Him and have a relationship with Him then you want to spend time with Him, you want to serve Him, you want to hear from Him through worship and prayer and time in His Word.
It is my prayer that everyone, everyone in the world, would not just know the true God in Jesus Christ but following Him with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.
If you or someone you know, knows God but aren’t really following Him, I encourage you to:
Pastor Chad Starfeldt
Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran
Is it really possible to be married and happy? Yes, I believe it really is. Schawn and I do not have a perfect marriage, but we have a very good marriage for a few reasons. Mostly, Schawn is amazing. She is loving. She is forgiving. She is very patient. She is a godly woman. She doesn’t nag. She doesn’t leave me TO DO LISTS. It helps to be married to a saint.
We also have a good marriage because we both do a lot of forgiving. We DO NOT hold grudges. We forgive and forget. We both have hurt each other. We both have said things we regret. We both have been selfish with wanting our way. But when those times happen we seek to come back to each other and say, “I’m sorry.” It’s such a powerful statement. It shows that we are putting our relationship back as the higher priority than our own wishes or desires.
I recently got very upset with Schawn. I wanted to make a large purchase. I had it in my head, probably before I even spoke with Schawn about it, that she would not want me to make this purchase. Every time we tried to talk about it, it would get heated. Schawn finally said, “I will not talk to you about this until you can talk to me calmly.” I did not like hearing that at all but that is exactly what needed to be said. When I finally was able to talk with Schawn calmly it was not at all that she did not want me to make the purchase. She just needed more information about where the money was coming from and how a few other financial things would play out as a result. I said “I’m sorry” and it all worked out. When we were able to calmly communicate with love and respect then things went much better. It’s amazing what happens when we approach our spouse calmly.
Ephesians 5:33 says “Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Showing love and respect is critical. Research reveals that during marital conflict a husband most often reacts when feeling disrespected and a wife reacts when feeling unloved. Research found that when they asked 7,000 people this question: “When you are in a conflict with your spouse, do you feel unloved or disrespected?” 83% of the men said “disrespected.” 72% of the women said “unloved.” Though we all need love and respect equally, the felt need differs during conflict, and this difference is as different as pink is from blue!
Showing love and respect to each other can be a secret key that unlocks a beautiful marriage.
If you want to grow more together check out the series LOVE AND RESPECT: Getting Off the Crazy Cycle. It is on Right Now Media. IT’S FREE. Watch it together.
Here’s more about it:
We know that divorce is a major issue in our culture today, both inside and outside the church. Despite our best attempts at love, couples find themselves paralyzed by dysfunction and mired in conflict. Why do we face so many seemingly insurmountable problems today? Is there hope for the struggle? What are we missing? In this 4-part series, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs sheds light on an often overlooked, yet indispensable element of a healthy marriage—respect. Combining biblical instruction with scientific expertise, Emerson provides insight into the unique ways in which God has designed both men and women and how they can rightly embrace their differences in marriage. As couples come to see the heart behind their partner's complaints, they will better understand the place for both love and respect between husband and wife. Rather than becoming another statistic, struggling marriages can break their Crazy Cycle and become thriving marriages by living in accordance to God's good design. https://www.rightnowmedia.org/Content/Series/225912#Trailer
I pray that you will have a HAPPY marriage. May we seek the Lord as we grow together.
Pastor Chad Starfeldt
It’s becoming more and more common to be an atheist. There are atheist conferences, atheist “churches,” atheist clubs and atheist t-shirts. Do you have an atheist family member or friend?
When I was studying to be a pastor I decided to do an experiment. I decided to get together with 4 men (husbands of some of our members at our church) who were not Christians. We met about 6 times at Applebee’s and we talk about: 1. God, 2. Jesus, 3. Heaven, 4. Hell, 5. Creation and 6. Evil in the world. One of the men was an atheist and the other 3 were more Agnostic. (They believed in some higher power but did not have much clarity about the higher power.)
The atheist had Jewish ancestry but did not see himself as a Jew spiritually. He said his parents rarely went to the synagogue and that he was basically raised as a secular Jew. His parents always said they were Jews ethnically but atheists spiritually. He thought the purpose for life was to make the world a better place. I was happy with that answer. He wanted nothing to do with church or any Christian holiday. He was not at all scared to die because he believed that there was absolutely no afterlife. He thought the practice of the sacrificial system in the Old Testament was barbaric and rather horrific of God to kill animals to pay for humans wrong doing.
He saw no reason to believe in God and it caused me to start understanding, for the first time, how atheists really see the world.
The discussion that made him scratch his head the most was the discussion we had about Creation. We had lots of discussion about evolution but he really could not explain where the stuff all came from that started evolving. I asked him “WHERE DID THE STUFF COME FROM that exploded in the big bang? Where did the stuff come from that supposedly started evolving into living cells and then living animals? DID ALL MATTER COME FROM NOTHING? Something cannot come from nothing. That does not make any sense. There had to have been something that created all the stuff that caused life.”
As the discussion went on He eventually agreed that he never really had a good explanation for how it all began, where all the stuff came from at the beginning that was the building blocks of life. He then admitted that his father, towards the end of his life, admitted to believing in some higher power because he just had no good explanation for how anything came to be without a Divine Instigator.
So even this atheist admitted that, to some extent, atheism is a delusion. It makes NO SENSE to believe that SOMETHING CAME FROM NOTHING. There is really no explanation for where matter came from accept from God.
So, Is Atheism a delusion? Yes because nothing comes from nothing and something comes from something.
I strongly encourage you to watch the free 60 minute video on the website link below. If you have high school or young adult family members watch it with them or email them the link and encourage them to watch it. If you have an atheist friend, email them the website and ask for their thoughts on the video.
We have answers to people’s difficult questions. We just need to get the answers out to them.
Pastor Chad Starfeldt was installed at Shepherd of the Hills in June of 2012.