Is God a big deal?
I grew up in the Christian church and faithfully attended her schools. “Church” was a way of life more than a way of salvation. At the age of 18, I left that life style to create my own, with my rules. Within twenty years, I was completely lost, alone and feeling hopeless.
If you’re stumbling along on the path of your faith or searching for deeper meaning to your life or completely lost like I was, I wish I could sit down face to face with you to share my whole story. Perhaps you are familiar with the Prodigal (Lost) Son in the book of Luke in the Bible. If you read it, it’s my story. In fact, all the writers of this ministry can tell you their stories of willfulness, loss and restoration, too.
We understand the Why?, Where are you?, Do you hear me? questions. We’ve struggled with our own logic being at odds with God’s wisdom. We’ve recognized when our expectations rose above God’s plans and timing, so we took matters into our hands and made a big mess. We, too, can grow weary in the supposed silence of God.
It’s when we isolate ourselves in those questions that we get boxed into a corner of our own making and feel overwhelmed and alone. Isolation from God is the sweet spot for the devil, and only his Son, our Savior, can pull us out. He is just one breath away.
That’s why God is a big deal!
Here’s where A WORD for Women can help. As his representatives, we can offer practical tools and relevant ways to get you to look up and grasp his reaching hand. Our approach, drawn from our own experiences, will always be Bible-based and Christ-centered.
We all need each other. God wired us to stay connected, to draw strength and encouragement from one another, and to stand together and thank him for all he has done and continues to do for us and the forever life to come.
I want to thank you for your precious time spent here with me. God is the only “deal” for us—without Him we are forever lost. Before I close this letter, Pastor Edward Schuppe, a faithful adviser to AW4W, shares a part of his story of why God is a big deal for his brother and the world. Just scroll down and enjoy. I believe it’s the best place to begin your conversation with your Savior. God bless you!
I, along with Karen and our team, remain in joyful service to you,
A WORD for Women
The Ministry of Reconciliation
2 Corinthians 5:14-21: 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Please close your eyes right now. I want you to imagine it is Judgment Day. Jesus has just separated the goats from the sheep. What joy you feel as you look around! You are among the sheep on Jesus’ right hand. But then as you glance over at the goats on his left, you see the face of a loved one. Someone you know does not believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
Is it a close friend?
Is it a relative?
Is it a member of your immediate family?
Please open your eyes. For me, the face on the goat would be my older brother, Jim. He and I had similar upbringings. We went to church and Sunday school every Sunday. In fact, at one time, he was my Sunday school teacher. He is 7 years older than I am. We both went to a Christian high school. Many thought he would be a pastor and I would be a math major. But he ended up going to prison for 5 years, where he says he lost his faith. He eventually became an engineering specialist. God gave me the privilege of being a pastor.
I love my brother. He had always been my hero. I wanted to be just like him until he went to prison. I don’t know about you, but I think it would be hard NOT to be sad looking at my brother, Jim among the goats. Yes, I know the Bible says that in heaven there will be “no more death or mourning or crying or pain,” but he is my brother. He is going to be in hell forever.
At this point in time today, we are all still alive, including your unbelieving loved one and my brother, Jim. Where does God want my brother and your unbelieving loved one to be? Is it on Christ’s right hand as a sheep or on his left as a goat?
In our Bible reading, verses 14-15, Paul focuses on Christ’s love for us and Christ’s love in us. “For Christ’s love compels us because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” Notice Paul’s repetition of “died” and “all”.
Why was all of that necessary? Why did Christ have to do all of that for our salvation? We just confessed that. The great sixteenth century Christian Reformer Martin Luther wrote in his Small Catechism, “We are lost and condemned creatures… we cannot by our own thinking or choosing believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord, or come to him.” On what hand of Jesus do we deserve to be? Do we deserve to be among the sheep, or should we be like that unbelieving loved one of ours among the goats?
Something has happened to change all that. We are new creations in Christ. Paul says in verse 17, “We had been separated from God because of our sins, but that division has been removed through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Through Holy Baptism, Christ has made us his own through the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul says we are reconciled. God our heavenly Father has guided the course of our lives from conception in our mother’s womb to this very day. From all eternity, God put everything in place so you could be sitting here today.
From your baptism as an infant (or maybe later in life) to your confirmation when you professed your faith in front of the church, to your coming to the altar to receive Christ’s true body and blood in, with, and under the bread and wine,
God has given you a very special calling. As Christ’s brothers and sisters, you are his ambassadors. How and where are we to be his ambassadors? Martin Luther used to say, “I prefer we were called “little Christs” rather than just “Christ-like” or “Christian”. When people look at us, I want them to see Jesus. How we live and how we speak and how we think is all part of being little Christs. In our homes, in our neighborhoods, at church, at work or in school, or standing in line at Walmart, we are his ambassadors. We are little Christs.
And what a message he has given us! It is the message of reconciliation. In verse 19, we hear God does not count people’s sins against them. How is this possible? In verse 21, we hear God made him (Christ) who had no sin to be sin for us. Was that enough? Do you remember Christ’s cry of victory from the cross as we read earlier in John 19? Tetellesthai. It is finished! God then sealed our salvation for us by raising Jesus from the dead. “He (Jesus) was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” (Romans 4:25)
We know God did this for all people. In 1 Timothy 2:3-4, Paul says, “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” He has appointed us to be his ambassadors to bring this message of truth and reconciliation to everyone in our circle of influence - a family member, a friend or someone we just met.
In April 1990, I had to have some major surgery done after a serious bicycle accident. (My father said he hoped the surgeon could put my head on straight.) My surgeon was one of the top neurosurgeons in the country at that time. He had been raised an orthodox Jew.
When he learned I was a Christian pastor, he would have his nurse schedule me for the last appointment of the day so we could talk afterwards. I was usually there for hours. You see, he had become a Christian and was a Sunday school teacher at a local Baptist church. Something else we shared was that both of us had lost our mothers recently- mine in 1988, his in 1990.
In talking with him after his father’s death, also in 1990, he made a very chilling statement. He said, “If I am going to believe the Bible is true - and I do - then I have to believe my mother and father are in hell.” Wow! I remember thinking to myself, “If I believed my mother had gone to hell when she died, I don’t know what I would have done.”
My doctor went on. “I shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with them over and over again. I knelt next to my mother’s bed and begged her, “Please believe in Jesus Christ as your Messiah, as your Savior.” She said, “I cannot,” and died soon after that. The same was also true for my father as he lay dying.”
Have you ever begged someone to believe? The apostle Paul did. Look at our text again, verse 20: “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” This is God’s appeal through us: We implore you (beg you) on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. Whether friend, relative or total stranger, our message is simply, “We beg you. Be reconciled to God.”
Please close your eyes again. I want you to imagine it is Judgment Day. Jesus has just separated the goats from the sheep. What joy you feel as you look around! You are among the sheep on Jesus’ right hand. But then as you glance over at the goats on his left, you see the face of a loved one. Can you name that friend or relative or family member that you know does not believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord? I can – his name is Jim.
Please open your eyes. I have great news for you and for your unbelieving loved one, as well as for me and my brother, Jim:
There is still time for goats to become sheep.
There is still time for goats to become sheep.
There is still time for goats to become sheep.
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, . . . We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” Go forth now, as Christ’s ambassadors, so more goats can become sheep before our Lord returns. Amen.
With love in Christ,
Pastor Edward P. Schuppe, Emeritus
"Lighten up in Christ and live for him."