Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound

Posted by Pastor Jonathan Blanke on

From the Pastor

Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound
(John 1:16-17)

It’s a cruel irony that Girl Scout cookie sales and March Madness always seem to coincide with the season of Lent. Just when I’ve convinced myself I’m a person of modest self-discipline, it all goes out the window. There’s no resisting a small box (do they get smaller every year?) of Thin Mints or Do-Si-Dos. And no matter how much or how little I have time to tune in to the NCAA basketball tournament each year, watching the Final Four is a tradition that supersedes most everything else on the calendar. Lent is supposed to be a season for discipline. Lent is supposed to be all about self-control. But there seems to be this strange arithmetic resulting in the equation that the more I try to stay focused and disciplined, the more temptations I encounter. C. S. Lewis once said that most people associate temptation with the desires of the flesh (appetites like lust and greed) when in truth the most deadly temptations have to do with attitudes of the heart: pride, fear, and despair. There are distractions and temptations aplenty. Cookies and too much television are the least of our concerns! But Jesus’ time of trial in the wilderness, Jesus’ miraculous signs and His conversations with people in need of a Savior repeatedly point the way to His cross… the place where He took away the sins of the world. Through Jesus, God tests our faith in times of trial… making it STRONGER. The obedient Son of God, our shield and Defender, stood up to temptation in a way that we do not. In Christ, our time of trial is no longer just an exercise of self-discipline in the face of the demonic effort to tempt and to frustrate faith. In Christ, trials bring the opportunity for us to once again encounter Jesus, the faithful Son of God, and to be brought into an even deeper relationship with Him.

Thanks to your prayers and support, the Life for Uganda team had a safe and productive visit to the Amudat region of Uganda… and the Lutheran Church Uganda seminary Jinja, Uganda last month! The group will be available for a time of information sharing and updating on March 12 during the Sunday School hour (9:30 AM) in the Fellowship Hall. I invite you to join us as we share some of the amazing things God is doing among our partners in ministry.

For Lent, 2023 we stay focused on the grace of God throughout our midweek Lenten services. It’s the 250th anniversary of the first singing of the hymn “Amazing Grace,” so what better time to see the grace of God overflowing in the Scriptures? Services convene every Wednesday night at 6 PM. This year we are pleased to welcome Lake Country High School and Band from Hartland, Wisconsin as they join us for worship on the evening of March 22. You are all invited to a dinner that evening, starting between 4:30 and 5 PM. Save the date! An opportunity to sign up for the dinner will be made available in the coming week.

The story is told of an elaborate trestle bridge being built across a large canyon during the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad. Wanting to test his bridge, the builder loaded a train with enough extra cars and equipment to double its normal payload. The train was then driven to the middle of the bridge where it stayed an entire day. One worker asked, "Are you trying to break this bridge?" "No," the builder replied, "I'm trying to prove that the bridge won't break." The One who created us DOES allow us to face trials at times. But the goal is not to break our faith…it is to draw us even more completely into the sufficient strength of our loving Savior. No matter what challenge we might face this year during Lent, the grace of God is always amazing… always sweeter always more abundant than we expect.

With eyes on the gift of Jesus’ cross,
Pastor Jonathan



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