Living Hope Community Church

Loving God by Loving Others

Author: Ken Cluck

Pastor Ken’s Hopes for the New Year

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With it being advent season, and then moving into the new year, I thought I would reflect a bit on my hopes for the upcoming year.

Like all of you, my hopes are for my family first. I hope for my expected grandbaby to be healthy. I hope for the happiness and well being of my children, and a chance to spend a great deal of time with them all.

For our church, I hope for holiness and righteousness to manifest in our people, but always through love.

For our community, I hope we continue as a place where the joys of small-town life are experienced by another generation.

For our world, I hope and pray for peace—the peace of Christ, for there is no other source for true peace.

Finally, I hope and pray to never hear about masks, mandates, or quarantines. I hope to never say the words, “For safety sake, we should not meet for a time.” But why do I list these last? Because, if our families are well, our church is loving, our community is joyful, and our world is at peace these are at least bearable.

All Hidden will be Seen

Published / by Ken Cluck / 1 Comment on All Hidden will be Seen

This morning, while reading in Luke 12, I came across Jesus words in verses 2 and 3:

“Nothing is covered up which will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops” (ESV).

Of course, the context is his warning to avoid the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. He often accuses them of doing one thing in public but doing another in private. Jesus does not want this to be us.

One way this is taken is to live our lives in constant awareness that what we do in secret is seen by God and will be revealed. But is this what he is calling us to do? Is this how he is calling us to live? Is this the secret to holiness? I would argue that it is not—at least not without some deeper understanding. Years ago, a young man asked me the difference between a child and an adult. My answer to his was simple, “A child does what is right to avoid being punished (if a child thinks he or she can get away with it, they have no reason to restrain themselves). But an adult does what is right for no other reason than that it is the right thing to do. This is character.

It has often been said that character is who you are when no one else is watching. If you are holy there is no need to fear being caught because the holy person lives holy; because the holy person is holy. We see a similar version of this when Paul speaks in Romans 2 about those who are a law unto themselves. The law says “Do not murder.” But if I love my neighbor, I need no law telling me not to murder him. The law says “Do not commit adultery.” But if I love my neighbor, I would never touch his wife. If I love my wife, then I will not touch another woman. My character, if holy, should be such that I do not need a law to tell me what to do. Paul describes the law as a guardian to keep us in check until Christ came. He goes on to say that “now that faith has come we are no longer under a guardian” (Gal 3:24-25 ESV). Don’t get me wrong. This is not antinomianism. This is transformation. The spirit of the law is still kept—I do not kill, steal, cheat, etc. because I am no longer a person who would do such things. Through the Holy Spirit’s presence, I have become a different person. While I am not there perfectly, I am getting there. This is where the law comes in. If I am a new believer who has not learned quite how God would have me live, I can look into the law and see the things which God forbade. I am no longer under law, for it was only a shadow of the real things that were to come (Heb 10:1). Yet, I must now live in the reality that casts the shadow—the truly holy life. So, please do not take this as a license to unholy living. This is actually a key to truly free-living—free from the bondage to our lost and spiritually dead selves.

What about this command of Jesus to understand that all hidden things will be displayed. Do we live holy lives because we know we will someday be caught? Not if we are holy. Jesus is here making a statement of fact. He says nothing is hidden from God and nothing will escape the light of his truth. This is not a reason to live holy (I live this way so God does not catch me living that way). It is an encouragement to holiness (I live this way because God, who loves me, sees me and I seek to please him). There are those times when we are tempted. One major problem in the church is porn addiction among the people and leaders. This is one of those problems that is fed by darkness and hiding. Addictions are another. When we sneak around to do things we lead ourselves into a bad place. Before long the hidden and dark take over our lives. Jesus is reminding us that nothing is hidden, so live the life of an open book. Understand these things. Live this life, not because you will get caught, but because you want to live the life of light and truth. This is an effective inspiration to avoid hypocrisy.

Answers to Prayer

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I write this, as I sit in Korea at my brother-in-law’s home. I’ve been thinking this morning about a recent event and how it may appear to some. We left the US on March 7 bound for Asia. This involved flying out of Chicago to Shanghai where we spent the night in a small Chinese hotel. The next day, we flew the rest of the way to Incheon, Korea—my wife’s hometown. The trip has been a wonderful adventure. We saw the Shanghai Bund (the picturesque financial district skyline). We rode the Maglev train in Shanghai, which reaches speeds of over 250 miles per hour. We’ve seen places from my wife’s childhood and our early married days in Korea, as well as war monuments and family. Besides all this, the food has been amazing. Wonderful authentic Chinese and Korean food. My wife also had the joy of preparing a nice meal to share with family. She loves to cook, and to share her cooking with people she cares about.

One thing happened that really got me thinking this morning. When we left the plane in Shanghai, it took two hours to get through immigration and to retrieve our luggage. We found that my wife’s suitcase was missing. She was quite upset. After filling in paperwork, we left the airport and went on with our trip. I explained that many things could have happened and she should not get her hopes up, but should just enjoy the rest of the trip.

Between then and now, the airline found her suitcase, put in on a plane to Korea and delivered it last night—about a week after our arrival here. We are grateful to family and friends who prayed. We are grateful to God. We praise God that he answers prayers. This gratefulness and the idea of prayer got me thinking about such matters and how the Church and the world sees them. I especially think of how the world sees them because I have many nonbelieving friends who have a hard time understanding our thinking on this and assume I am saying things I am not. Allow me to explain.

First, the loss of a suitcase is a very trivial matter. I agree. It is trivial indeed, especially when it is not your suitcase, and you are not thousands of miles from home with only the clothes on your back. My wife however was quite distraught by this. She had bought all new clothes for the trip—something she only does about once a decade. The suitcase also contained gifts for her family—important in a society where a visitor brings gifts. Also consider that since she had only a set of clothes here, she had to borrow one from our sister-in-law to have clothing while hers were being washed. This also meant clothes had to be washed much more often, making the trip much less enjoyable and far more difficult. So, while some might think the loss of a suitcase is a trivial thing to pray about, and far too trivial for God to bother with, for the one without the contents of the suitcase it can be far from trivial. I encouraged my wife to not let the missing luggage get her down, but I could tell it was bothering her. It robbed her of some of the joy she could have otherwise had on the trip. Yes, that is a matter of her priorities, but they are her priorities and I must deal with them.

Second, some will argue that praying for a suitcase to be returned and then having it returned is faulty reasoning. They will accuse me of committing post hoc ergo propter hoc. This is an old fallacy in which one assumes the occurrence of B after A, means (usually offered as proof) B was caused by A. If while walking down the street I picked up a penny, and then experiencing good things the rest of the day this does not mean my good day was caused by picking up the penny—no matter how many times you hear “See a penny, pick it up and all the day you’ll have good luck.” But this is not what I am claiming here.

You see, I am not saying God took time out of his day to find and retrieve my wife’s suitcase. But I am also not saying he didn’t. You see I don’t care about the mechanism. I and others were concerned for my wife. We prayed for her, that this pressure on her would be alleviated—through the retrieval of her suitcase. How it happened, and what was the cause is not our concern. We can still be grateful that it happened, and grateful to God. For one, God has encouraged us to bring all requests to him, no matter how large or small. He has also said that he cares about us—even in trivial matters. Our thanking God for the answers to our prayers should not be taken as a form of superstition. Instead, we thank him because he is God, he listens to our needs and he acts on our behalf. How things come about is his business. We are offering no proof, nor claiming any from this. My wife got her suitcase back. She is happy. And like all husbands, I am grateful to God for a happy wife.

So, before jumping into thinking I am saying something I am not, I would encourage the skeptic who deals with Christians to consider what I actually said above:

We are grateful to family and friends who prayed.

We are grateful that people lift us up in prayer. We would be just as grateful had we never recovered the suitcase. Friends who pray for us are precious and worth far more than gold.

We are grateful to God.

We are grateful to God. We thank him that we have such friends. We thank him that he cares about our needs, even the trivial ones. We thank him and are grateful that he encourages us to bring such needs to him. We are grateful that the pressure on my wife over her lost suitcase is now gone. We are grateful that she can relax and has more clothing to wear—understanding, as we do, that all good things ultimately come from God, even those which may happen mechanistically.

We praise God that he answers prayers.

God answers prayers. We are not offering this experience as proof of some cosmic luggage retrieval system, but as a simple acceptance that we asked and later received. What happened in between is his business—and the airlines. It may be that God merely allowed the airline’s system to work. So? What does that change? We asked and later received. We are grateful for receiving. We do not offer this as proof to you that you too should pray. That argument would be made much differently.

I’ll end by saying thank God my wife now has her new clothing. She is now happy, and as all married men know, “If she’s happy, I can be happy. Because, if she ain’t happy, Lord help me!” –Just kidding honey! You know I love you!