Monthly Message

Pastoral Message
Get to know Him!
Jesus, The Great Giver!
     When we're under stress, when we're weighed down by responsibilities, and when we feel like no one cares and no one can help us, we run to God. We ask God to remind us of his promises. Like a child asks his father, we ask God to help us focus our attention on His baptismal grace and on Jesus’ body and blood that is given and shed to forgive our sin. We ask God to “speak Jesus” to us so we may know quiet and peace.
     In the Book of The Psalms, for example, David talks about his stress, the weight of responsibility and lack of help. And for these reasons, he runs to God.  He accepts that what's happening to him comes from God. And David agrees that whatever comes at him is intended to discipline him, to teach him patience, and to fear God.
     Unlike David, we usually look to ourselves for relief, or try to find someone to lift the weight off us.  We would rather God not discipline us, nor teach us patience through fear of His wrath.  If we accept God as disciplinarian, might we become more and more impatient with God, and eventually grow to despise Him.
     God disciplines those whom he loves in two ways. He disciplines in grace, like a kind and loving Father. At other times, God is like an impartial judge who disciplines in wrath.
     It’s easy to lose hope, because when God gets ahold of us, we don't know whether He is gripping us in anger or grace. When we feel God grip us in anger, we scream like King David, "O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath... don't be a Judge, be my loving Father."
     King David prays that God will discipline him in grace, like a kind and gentle father disciplines a child. David asks God to show him grace, to give him strength, to help him, and to drive away all the terrible thoughts and selfish, self-serving feelings that push him to think of God as a bone crusher and heart breaker. David prays that God will save him from guilt about his past, present disasters, and the pain of a future death.
     But God's strength and comfort aren't given to anyone who isn't horrified by sin, and who doesn't feel like he has been abandoned by God. That's why, when we're under stress, when we're weighed down by responsibilities, and when we feel like God doesn't care, and nobody can help us, we run to Jesus.
     God is love.  When He disciplines us, he wants to ensure that we put Jesus first in our life.  Whatever we depend on for help and comfort that isn't Jesus, must be stripped away – so all that's left for us to depend on is Jesus' goodness, kindness and strength.
     This also is why David says in Psalms 51 that the only sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken and contrite heart. God doesn’t desire anything else we might sacrifice to Him.  But He will accept a humble and broken heart that comes to Him, through his Son, for everything.
     Instead of offering God empty words and shallow promises that we hope will encourage Him to help us, we come to Him honestly, brokenly and in profound humility for Jesus’ sake and in His Name. We trust God as our loving Heavenly Father, who has loved us enough to send His precious Son Jesus as our Savior, and who surely will act in a way for our greatest good. That's the Good News of one who lives blamelessly before God, with sins forgiven, in a living relationship with Jesus! The Great Giver of Forgiveness, Life and Salvation!

A brother in Christ,

Pastor Tom Henkes
Shepherd of the Desert Lutheran Church
331 South Lake Powell Blvd.
Page, AZ 86040

Rev. Tom Henkes is Pastor to Shepherd of the Desert Lutheran Church, Page, AZ.  A California native and life-long Lutheran, he attended a Lutheran elementary school, graduated from Concordia College, Seward, Nebraska, and Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana.  He has served two congregations in the Phoenix area.

  Crystal River of Life - Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There shall no more be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants shall worship him; they shall see his face, and his name shall be on their foreheads. And night shall be no more; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they shall reign for ever and ever. Revelation 22:1-5