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Pastor's Monthly Message


Pastor's Monthly Message...July-August 2017

We Are Great When We Are Good

Over 200 years ago, America was still an experiment, a French philosopher named Alexis de Tocqueville came to examine and report back home the status on this new land and new government.
He made the comment that any society needs some kind of "glue" to hold it together; customs, history and faith. He said that any society needs a common bond. If the bond doesn't grow naturally, it is taken over by a totallitucian government that holds people together whether they like it or not.
In our land we have a wide open country with various nationalities, customs, tastes, and faiths, a people had a deliberately set out to leave their cities free. The idea was exciting but dangerous. The Frenchman and other people wandered what would keep this brew of freedom from turning every citizen into a government of his own. What would hold these states together? What would keep the powerful from imposing their will on the weak if there was no strong central authority to hold them in check? Why hadn't Americans split into a thousand squabbling factions? Or why had they not been locked into the iron grip of a dictator? Why were they succeeding so well?
De Tocqueville searched for an answer and this was the one thing he said, "Not until I went to the churches of America and heard the pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good and if ever America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great." De Tocqueville noted that it was this "goodness" that bound Americans together. Not a fiery fanaticism that turned one people against another, but love, concern and consideration of one American for another. He found a public and private acceptance that this was a nation voluntarily committing itself to the protection and guidance of others.

Pastor's Monthly Message...June,2017

For Our Graduates

Every year, about the last of May or first of June, our country witnesses the annual rituals of graduation ceremonies - a time which often signifies the end of formal education. But after graduation, many graduates soon realize they are freshmen again. The good life is a series of learning experiences. As the graduates enter college or the professional world, they would do well to build careers on a solid foundation of steady learning experiences and steadily developing talent. These are great satisfactions for the individual whose job is under control. There is only anxiety for the person whose job is not.
If schools or other learning institutions have done their jobs well, graduates will have developed habits of mind that will be useful in new situations throughout their lives - curiosity, open-mindedness, objectivity, respect for evidence, and the capacity to think critically. If society has created an atmosphere which encourages effort, striving, and vigorous performance, the chances are that our young people will expect much of themselves.
Part of that expectation will be to continue learning. Learning must be a lifelong companion so there will be continual self-renewal.
The truly educated person knows that happiness does not come from self-gratification, ease, comfort, diversion or a state of having achieved all of one's goals. Happiness involves the striving for meaningful goals-goals that relate the individual to a larger context of purposes, goals that call forth the full use of one's powers and talents. Graduation is, indeed a commencement. It is the beginning toward the best that life has to offer, the foundation of which is learning, and the summit of which is true knowledge.

Rev. Hans Lillejord

Pastor's Monthly Message...May,2017

Friends

Our friendships with each other is one of life's most meaningful gifts. A Greek poet once said, "Life has no gift or blessing like a prudent friend". How important are our relationships with our friends?
Interpersonal relationships are more important to us than most of us realize. When adults are asked to name the times when they were most happy, most seem to say that what makes them most happy or sad are personal relationship with other human beings. Those relationships can be more important than personal health, more important than work and more important than money or material things.
We all need stable relationships in our lives. Certainly there is value in an intimate friendship, even though we may risk being hurt by making ourselves vulnerable. Close friendships make us feel wanted and needed. They also help us discover that our own problems and feelings are not unique. Friends often have similar problems and joys to share.
Our lives are enriched through meaningful friendships. Perhaps more than any other factor, the quality of our human relationships determine the quality of our lives. This means that a high priority of our lives should be the building of significant relationships with family and friends through open and honest communication.
When we find ourselves in short supply of friendships, it is quite possible that we are not willing to devote our energies to it. We simply assume it will happen. But it doesn't. We need to take an interest in other people, and that requires time, effort and a deep concern.
Most of the time, we are somewhat guarded in what we share with each other. We often stick close to role-defined behavior or focus on our positive attributes to avoid rejection. If a relationship is going to develop, we have to take the risk of being honest with our feelings.

Pastor's Monthly Message.. April,2017

Face Your Fears
Life is an especially high - risk proposition. The stakes are extremely high. Total happiness or complete heartbreak is often a matter of difference in a step, a turn of a head, or an offhand decision. Misery may suddenly break upon our heads out of nowhere. We may display moments of confidence for one another, occasional acts of bravado, but is only the dishonest who never admit to fear in their lives. I believe that all of us dwell somewhere between comfortable security and fearful anxiety.
When we do meet with uncertainty, deep feelings of fear may arise. A full stomach may not please us today if we are not sure of tomorrows meal. but even in times of relative security, we can never forget how frail the heart is in the person we love most, how limited is our time together. We can never forget in our time of relative confidence how little we know, how prone we are to error. One philosopher said, "Man is but a reed - the weakest thing in nature...It is not necessary that the whole world should arm itself to crush him. A vapor, a drop of water is enough to kill him."
When life does have its terrifying moments, how do we survive them?
Eleanor Roosevelt said, "You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing which comes along." The real danger in our lives lies in refusing to face fear, in not daring to come to grips with it. If you fail anywhere along the line, it will take your confidence. You must do the thing you cannot do.

Pastor's Monthly Message..March,2017

Listen To The Coach
A distinguishing feature of our way of life in this era is the increasing number of people who are involved in athletics of one kind or another. Most young people now participate in some form of sports competition. While in the past, it was the domain of young men, today's world includes young women almost equally. Spectator sports are a major focus of leisure time in many of our lives.
Unfortunately, recently we have been confronted with many negatives in sports. Cheating seems to be common, drug use which enhances performance seem to be acceptable and money can help determine the outcome of events.
However, there are still many positive results which can come from athletic competitions. The results of disciplined practice, the thrills of pursuing goals and the wisdoms gained from winning and losing are just some of the benefits.
But there is another important lessons that successful athletes must learn. Regardless of athletic power and natural ability, every individual who has aspirations to succeed in the competitive world of sports must first listen to a coach - to listen to someone who has been there before, to a person whose judgment is shaped by long seasons of preparation and experience. It is the coach's advice and counsel that must be placed before the noisy urgings of the crowd and even one's own interest.
Life, in general, demands of us this same lesson. All of us, who participate in the contest of living must also learn to heed the voice of the coach because our success and happiness quite often depend on it.

Pastor's Monthly Message..February,2017

The brain is a very wonderful thing. Not only does it receive, interpret and record information on a daily basis but with the passage of time, the wonderful mind sorts and orders our experience. When it does, it gives increased worth to all the memories and recollections of events that seemed so unimportant in our earlier years.
When we grow up, we began to understand the nature of human thought and wisdom. And as our maturity looks back in time, it teaches us that what may have appeared important to us when we were young loses much of that importance as we get older. And, conversely, what we may have taken for granted gains in value as time passes.
"I made a great mistake in my youth" wrote one man in his diary. I supposed that what was important to me then would remain important for a life time, like winning at football, buying my first automobile, dating the most attractive girl in my class, and being invited to join a fraternity in college, were all matters which might have an eternal value. But age has brought me home to the great lesson we must all learn. As memory takes me back to my childhood - the sports, the cars, the puppy loves, are all gone. And in their place are the sacred hours spent with my father and mother - hours of work, play, of discipline; irreplaceable hours with parents who are no more.
The truth is that those words provide us all with insight. For those of us who are parents, we learn that we do not always have to be understood by our children to be loved by them. And the love we give them, even if it includes a portion of discipline, will be more valued in time. We come to understand that there is no more important time than that which we spend with our children. To provide children with happy, meaningful memories is a primary responsibility of parenthood.

Pastor's Monthly Message...January..2017

What Is Really Needful

All of us seem to revel in the fact that we are "so busy". There are so many things to do, so many responsibilities that pull us for our time. Technology was supposed to simplify our lives but it seems to have made are lives more crowded. As soon as we seem to invent a system to simplify one task, another responsibility moves in to take control of whatever time we have saved. It may be true that we get more things done by making more efficient use of our time, but it may also mean that as our lives become more full, more complex, more detailed some of the more important aspects of living receive less attention or are forgotten altogether.
How many times have we justified the time we spend away from families, justified the neglect families suffer because of careers, pleasures, or other distractions? "I'm doing these things for you" neglected families are often told. And, while that may be partly true, it does not make the neglect any less real. A boy once received such an explanation from his father, who never had time to play ball with him. The boy said, "The trouble; dad, is that I'm not in your book". "Book", said the father, "what book"?
"You know", the boy replied, "the book you write your appointments in, the one where you keep track of meetings with important people. "I'm not in there!"
Jesus spoke about these things, the problem of mismanaged priorities. The occasion was when he visited the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. While Mary set at the feet of Jesus, learning of salvation, Martha worked the kitchen and was very annoyed that Mary did not help her. Finally, Martha complained to Jesus who answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are careful and troubled about many things; but only one thing is needful: and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:41-42

Pastor's Monthly Message...December..2016

Why We Can't Wait

A few years ago, a major movement in America had its slogan, battle cry, "Why We Can't Wait!" The present has an endless feel about it. When our children are running wild in our house, it seems impossible to think that they will soon be gone and we will be alone. Remember when you thought you would always be a child in your parents home? Do you remember when it seemed like you would always be in school?

We soon began to realize that the "today's" disappear quite quickly into memories. One season becomes another, and our face suddenly looks older in the mirror. We become the middle and then the older generation at the family reunion. Our parents slip away from us one day and one of life's anchors is gone.

Though life seems long in our quick thoughts, it is but a moment. It dances past us and darts off into our nighttimes. If life is short, it is precious. If life is fragile, it must be handled with care. While we have been reminded quite often to be patient, we should began to understand that there are some things for which we cannot wait.

We cannot wait to mend an argument. What if the harsh words were our last ones?

We cannot wait to hug a child. He will soon grow out of his need for our hugs.

We cannot wait to treat our parents well. Someday soon they will be beyond our touch.

We cannot wait to help a friend. When someone needs our help, they need it now, not when it is more convenient for us.

We cannot wait to shed our weakness, tomorrow it will be a habit, and the next day a part of our character.

We cannot wait to find joy. Joy is an attitude, not a future event.

Our days are like clouds adrift on a summer sky. We know their grace one small hour, and then they are gone beyond our reach and comprehension. Let us live them well while they are still with us. That is why we cannot wait.

Pastor Hans Lillejord

Pastor's Monthly Message...November..2016

What Is Important?
Distinguishing between Reality and Appearance.

One of the quietest authors/playwrights in English history is William Shakespeare. when I took a college course in Shakespeare I approached it with some skepticism as to whether or not he would have much to tell me as a young man. I found that every play I read had some major theme that was relevant for all time. One of these themes was the conflict between appearance and reality. In Shakespeare words, he told us that "all that glitters is not gold" and that "not every cloud engenders a storm". He further noted that "things sweet to the taste prove in digestion sour". It is time well spent to go back to the great masters of literature and reflect on their themes because truth is not limited to a time or a people. We, like the people of Shakespeare London, are living in a world of false images where it is hard to sort out truth from reality. It's a world where a political candidates hairstyle is more important to his campaign than his stand on world issues. It is a world where we know each other so superficially that some of our best friends are those who speak to us from a television set or twitter anonymously on a cell phone. It's a world where our dream homes are the slim facades of a television movie set, a world where we as humans put on facades because we are not quite sure people will like us without a veneer.

Pastor's Monthly Message...October..2016

Importance of Friendship

One of the most important task that has been given us by our religion is "Love thy neighbor". That directive also includes "Love your family". This directive is a charge to be concerned about human relationships in our lives. It is about the business of creating friendship with people who make us feel comfortable and with those we share honesty and trust.
This includes everybody from mere acquaintances to someone with whom we share our most intimate secrets. The relationship we have with one another will vary from person to person but some kind of bond is always there.
If we feel we don't have many friendships it is quite possible that we don't give enough time to develop them. On our list of goals or "bucket list, developing certain friendships" usually does not appear on them. We simply assume that they will happen automatically, yet, the first rule of friendships should be to assign a top priority to them.
If we are to love our neighbor and develop meaningful relationships, we have to take an interest and spend time on them. If we are to be a friend we must care about others, what they think, what they feel, about their successes and failures in life. Friendship is a circle, since it cannot include the good points and not the bad.
Quite often, friendships end because they are inconvenient. We may have good intentions and good impulses for a strong relationship, but it might be too time and energy consuming to invest in them. Most of the time we are willing to do generous things as long as they are convenient for us. But friendships are quite often very inconvenient because it always includes the "giving of oneself".
Some of the most basic aspects of friendship are loyalty, ability to keep personal confidences, openness, ability to give support, a sense of humor, frankness, as well as personal time.

12809 New Sweden Church Road
Manor, TX 78653
Phone: 512-281-0056

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Rev. Hans J. Lillejord, Pastor
Cell Phone: 512-947-9044

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Services Held Every Sunday at 10:30am


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