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The trust app

What takes years to build, seconds to break, and a miracle to repair? Trust.

James D. Roecker

Imagine a child slowly creeping to the side of a pool. That child’s father is in the pool waiting with open arms and calling for his child to jump. But the little guy is scared of the unknown. He does not know for sure what will happen if he jumps. Father and son make eye contact. The father says, “Trust me.” His son tightly closes his eyes, trusts his father, and jumps into his open arms. After that the child knows for sure that he can trust his father to catch him every time he jumps into the pool. Uncertainty

at the edge of the pool was erased since his father came through and caught him.

Throughout our lives there are numerous scenarios when we feel like that child at the edge of the pool. We can be consumed with worry and fear of the unknown. We can become paralyzed to the point of inaction because we are scared we might pick the wrong path through life.

One of these life scenarios is taking the plunge into the pool called college. The process of selecting the right college can fill anyone’s heart with fear—and that is before you consider where your friends are planning on attending college. Worry winds its way into your mind and heart. “What if I can’t make new friends? Do I really want to take the college plunge by myself?”

It can be easy to focus inward—to focus on how we will handle life’s challenging decisions—and forget the Lord. The book of Proverbs gives us all this inspired reminder: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). Leaning on the Lord and trusting in him eases the burden of challenging decisions, since he already knows the plan for each of

our lives.

The Lord knows each collegian’s path through the rigors of college. He knows the friendships that will be forged. In some cases, those friendships made in college will endure for entire lifetimes.

However, those relationships are not without sin. Trust among friends can take seconds to break. The psalmist David reflected: “Even my close friend, someone

I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me” (Psalm 41:9). Friends can fail us. They can fail to follow through on what they said they would do. At times, our expectations of them do not match what we experience, and trust begins to evaporate. We may have to confront our friends from time to time regarding their failures.

That’s tough, especially since we ourselves are not always trustworthy. We are capable of all kinds of sin by nature. On our own we cannot repair the damage done to our

relationship with God.

But God knew what remedy was needed to restore us to himself. God sent his only Son to repair the relationship. Through Jesus’ death on the cross of Calvary, God himself has become our salvation. Jesus has restored peace, trust, and joy. We trust in God only because of Jesus. We are not afraid. God’s plan is the right plan. Trust him.

James Roecker, pastor at Divine Word, Plover, Wisconsin, does campus ministry work at UW-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

This is the fifth article in a six-part series on life apps the Bible has given Christians.

 


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Author: James D. Roecker
Volume 104, Number 1
Issue: January 2017

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2018
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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Rest: Part 4

When you need rest from this harried world, retreat to your Savior in his Word.

James D. Roecker

How much sleep do you need? The National Sleep Foundation recommends that most adults need between seven to nine hours of sleep per night to function at their best. For younger adults (18-25), the recommended sleep range is also seven to nine hours per night. I wonder if their recommendation matches reality.

The reality is that not everyone gets enough sleep. We live in a culture that chronically overworks. We are a generation of exhausted people. And most of the time we realize it is bad for us. Yet we are always on the go, filling our schedules to the maximum. The to-do list seems endless. Rest eludes us.

Rest can also be elusive for college students. Often there is just not enough time for sleep. College schedules get busy rather quickly. The academic year can be rigorous all by itself. But many students participate in intramural sports. Others play on the collegiate-level athletic teams. Some are involved in two or more student organizations. Part-time jobs can be thrown into the mix as well. Study time is important too, but so is time for fun and socializing. All of a sudden something fills every minute of every day. Exhausting! Coffee, really any caffeinated drink, becomes king. The National Sleep Foundation’s recommended seven to nine hours of sleep is just that, a recommendation.

Eventually, the question needs to be asked: “Is this current pace sustainable?” Lack of sleep can lead to distress physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. Maybe sleep deprivation causes you to become a totally different person, a person you might not like as much as your normal, rested self.

But there’s an app for that.

Jesus, as true human, was not immune to exhaustion or getting tired. He also recognized the benefits of withdrawing to solitary places to pray and recharge before returning to his redemptive mission. After some disciples reported John’s beheading to Jesus, we are told this: “When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place” (Matthew 14:13). The crowd followed him. After landing the boat on shore, Jesus had compassion on the crowd, healed the sick that were there, and miraculously fed the large crowd. But then Jesus took time to rest. “After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone” (Matthew 14:23).

Our to-do lists are not going to say: “Be the Savior of the world.” Jesus has already accomplished our salvation through his work as Savior while he lived on this earth. He lived perfectly in our place, suffered the agony of the world’s—including your and my—sins on the cross of Calvary, and rose victoriously from the dead.

So when you need rest from this harried world, retreat to your Savior in his Word. Be refreshed by the living and enduring Word of God. Sleep soundly and securely knowing that your God will never abandon you and will wake you with the morning light if that is his will. Jesus has said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). He keeps his promises and will give you spiritual rest in this life and in your eternal life in heaven.

James Roecker, pastor at Divine Word, Plover, Wisconsin, does campus ministry work at UW-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

This is the fourth article in a six-part series on life apps the Bible has given Christians.


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Author: James D. Roecker
Volume 103, Number 11
Issue: November 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2018
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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Application is everything: Part 3

Confession is good for the soul, but not enough. Applying forgiveness to our souls is trusting Jesus has paid the penalty we deserve.

James D. Roecker

Sally comes to church every Sunday. She arrives early to save her favorite spot. She participates in worship, confesses her sins, and pays close attention to the pastor’s message.

Yet Sally always leaves church feeling bad about herself. Sally takes this bad feeling back into her daily life. Through this routine, Sally feels close to God. Feeling bad seems like a good thing for her. The closeness to God she experiences by feeling bad about her sins seems to satisfy her and ultimately makes her feel superior to her friends who do not go to church.

Confession is more involved than just feeling bad about sin. To some, penance quickly comes to mind when discussing confession. Penance involves confessing sins and then doing some act to repair the damage caused by sin. Feeling bad about your sins can be viewed as that “something” we do to overcome sin. Emptying the overflowing sin bucket in confession to God can be a satisfying experience, but it never applies Christ’s forgiveness.

If we view confession as a guilt reliever or a conscience cleanser, all the emphasis is on us. It’s like saying that God and I had a private conversation about sin, so we are good. Sally might come to God and say, “God, I’m sorry I hate Mary. She rubs me the wrong way. I’m sorry, but I’ve confessed this sin to you, God, so we’re good, right? When I tell you my sins, that counts, doesn’t it?” So then, sadly, Sally goes off to class and the dorm thinking that feeling bad makes up for sin.

But it doesn’t. For Sally, the law left her feeling bad about herself. The law does make us feel bad because it shows us just how far we have fallen, just how short we have come to God’s standard of perfection. We confess that we are sinners who deserve God’s punishment.

Confession is the first part. The second part is applying the full and complete forgiveness of sins. Jesus’ blood, not our remorse, cleanses us from sin. None of our efforts, including our effort to amend our sinful life, removes sin. Only God’s grace in Jesus forgives us. Then that forgiveness gives us the power to gladly and freely turn from the sin and live differently because our sins are fully and freely cleansed. The problem may be that we don’t change as dramatically as we think we should. We fail again and again, sometimes falling into the same pet sins.

So we come to church each week not only to confess our sins and feel bad about them but also to rejoice that our sins are forgiven. There is full forgiveness for our sins in Christ. As we live out our Spirit-worked faith, we’ll strive to turn completely away from sin and toward our Savior. “I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.’ And you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32:5). We then live each day as a forgiven child of our heavenly Father.

James Roecker, pastor at Divine Word, Plover, Wisconsin, does campus ministry work at UW-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

This is the third article in a six-part series on life apps the Bible has given Christians.


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Author: James D. Roecker
Volume 103, Number 9
Issue: September 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2018
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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Application is everything

Sometimes it’s easier to hold a grudge then to forgive, but we are to forgive others as Christ forgave us.

James D. Roecker

Has there ever been a time in your life when someone wronged you? Have false rumors been spread about you to give you a bad name? Those rumors might have torn down your reputation. Maybe you can think of a few people who have broken your trust. Forgiveness may not be given out easily. Really, it is easier to withhold forgiveness for a while so others feel terrible about what they did to you.

In fact, holding a grudge often seems to be the only option. One of life’s guilty pleasures is fantasizing about what telling that person off looks like. Rehearsal time is set aside to run through all the grievances you have in your arsenal. Resentment can rage until lashing out with an angry text or e-mail. We may even make decisions based on how someone has wronged us.

At times, the “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you” exchange are just words you say, not something you truly feel. Then a relationship you have with someone disintegrates quickly and ends poorly. This sort of thing can happen at the workplace, within families, and even on college campuses.

College courses do not ignore the topic of forgiveness, but the religious and spiritual component is often lacking. UW–Stevens Point student, Emma, shared an experience she had in her Positive Psychology class. An entire section of the course was dedicated to the topic of forgiveness. One assignment was to write a forgiveness letter to someone. Students did not have to give the person the letter. They wrote it and handed it in.

Emma said this about her letter: “I chose to write it to my first roommate from the residence halls. We did not have the same morals or respect for others. It ended poorly when I changed roommates after a semester with her. I often would see her around campus, and we both avoided eye contact and never talked even before I switched rooms. So I wrote the letter, and, after the letter was written, I said a prayer. I knew that I had already been forgiven by God for the way I handled the situation, but it helped me get it out of my head. I stopped feeling weird every time I ran into her.”

Sinful people sin. All of us fall short of God’s standard of perfection. Sin strains all the relationships we have, including our relationship with our heavenly Father. We can even secretly enjoy being overcome by evil. We might not want to ever forget the way people have treated us or especially the deep hurt they caused. At times, we may not be able to forgive ourselves.

However, when we confess our sins, the cross is personal. God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness is given to you. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). His faithfulness brings us forgiveness.

Forgiven people forgive. Jesus lived a perfect life, died for all people, and rose from the dead. He lives so that we will someday live with him eternally. We need to take time to reflect on the forgiveness Jesus has given us and then let our light shine as we live Christlike lives and forgive others.

James Roecker, pastor at Divine Word, Plover, Wisconsin, does campus ministry work at UW-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

This is the second article in a six-part series on life apps that Bible had given Christians.

SUBMIT YOUR STORY

Do you have a manuscript, idea, or story from your own life you’d like to share for use in Forward in Christ or on wels.net? Use our online form to share it to our editorial office for consideration.

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Get inspirational stories, spiritual help, and synod news from  Forward in Christ every month. Print and digital subscriptions are available from Northwestern Publishing House.

 

Author: James D. Roecker
Volume 103, Number 7
Issue: July 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2018
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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