From Transgression to Grace

February 28th 2021 – Second Sunday of Lent

Pastor Bryan Niebanck

Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? ~ Mark 8:37

How are you doing on your Lent challenge so far?  Have you been doing kind things for yourself or for others?  I know that a few have done kind things for others, such as donating to the blanket fund one day, or driving another to our Grief Group on Tuesday, or making a meal for someone else.  Another has done some sewing for a family member.  How about for yourself?  I do not hear about how we serve ourselves as much, and that is just as important.  I spent some time reading.  I ran for some exercise and to help me get ready for my next marathon, now that it is getting warmer.  Yes, for me, running is taking care of myself.  Keep letting us know what you are doing and how you find it is helping you to draw closer to God.  If we serve others but not ourselves, we burn out.  If we serve ourselves but not others, we are not using the gifts that God has given us.

Do you ever feel like you have not done enough for God?  Perhaps you are right, and you should think about what else you are called to do.  If you do not know, try something until you realize that you are not good at it, then try something else.  Perhaps you should ask God.  I tried Ultimate Frisbee in college because I liked the thought of throwing a Frisbee around.  I made it onto the playing field typically when we were scores ahead or scores behind (which means “a lot”).  I was never a starter.  So, I enjoyed it for a time, but I moved on.  Some of you are wonderful listeners and serve other people very well.  Others of you might get impatient and are better at doing things behind the scenes, like organizing the offering.  The church needs you just as much as you need the church. Yet at other times, this question arises when you really have done a lot.  We often feel that we have not done enough even when we have worked hard for hours, weeks, or even years straight.  I can tell you that I do believe that I have done a lot as pastor here so far, but there is always something that I know I could do better, or more of.  I have to settle with the knowledge that I will always leave something undone that I wanted to get to, and there will always be an unhappy customer along the way too.  Some will like traditional hymns while others prefer contemporary.  Some will want to be contacted by the pastor more than they are, and others do not wish to be bothered as much as they are.  It is the world that we live in.  Yet, I always want to get more done.  I want to get my sermon done by Tuesday; if it is not done, I feel inadequate and unprepared for the rush to finish by Wednesday.  There are people I have not called for some time, but the hours in the day tick by too quickly until it is too late, and the time is expired.  Pastor Craig Groeschel is the Senior Pastor of Life Church, and he recently wrote a book called Winning the War in Your Mind: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life.  He noted that he always feels like he is not doing enough.  Where he gives more to the church, he is not giving enough for his wife.  When he gives more to his wife and kids, he feels he is not giving enough to the church.  When he gives more to himself, he feels he is not giving enough to the church or to his family.  There is more to the book than that, but the point that he makes is that we need to be continually focused on God so that our minds do not play the drawback card on us.  We do not need our minds to bring us down more; we need God to lift us up.  That is why we need to ask if we have fallen short in our giving to God.  This does not just mean monetary giving; it means the time and energy that you save for God as well.  Does God get the leftovers of your day?  That can change.  Does your spouse or your family?  Hopefully not.  But that can change too.

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