Monday, April 1, 2019

Devotion 4.1.19

We’ve started a new series focused on the Lenten theme or repentance.  

Sometimes it’s easy to distance ourselves from idolatry when we read the Bible.

10 “Thus shall you say to them: “The gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens.”…. Every man is stupid and without knowledge; every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols; for his images are false, and there is no breath in them. They are worthless, a work of delusion; t the time of their punishment they shall perish.  Not like these I she who is the portion of Jacob, for he is the one who formed all things, and Israel is the tribe of his inheritance; the LORD of hosts is his name. (Jer. 10:11-16)


But when we pay a little more attention, we can find many in our lives.

What things in our lives do we put a ton of value on, but they will perish form the earth….?
What things do we emphasize that have no breath in them- placing things over people….?
When we have to make a decision, will we make time for the LORD of hosts or for _______  What wins?

We have a lot to repent for-
The good news is that we have that living God who formed us and who calls us his inheritance.  He doesn’t give up on his children.
He is the LORD of hosts and powerful to save.  Powerful enough to save us from all these idols by his work on the cross.      

Dan Borkenhagen
Associate Pastor
Hope Lutheran Church & School

Monday, March 25, 2019

Devotion 3.25.19

We’ve started a new series focused on the Lenten theme or repentance.  

What responsibility do you have for the repentance of others?

Have you ever thought of this before?  Our Old Testament lesson this week made me think about it.
“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved.10 “Son of man, say to the Israelites, ‘This is what you are saying: “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?”’ 11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the SovereignLord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! (Ezek. 33:7-11)

What this makes incumbent on us is speaking to those with whom we have influence.  To those family, friends, and even fellow church members we know who are stuck in sin, we have a role in speaking to them of repentance. It’s a task that can be intimidating.

But it’s also a task that doesn’t need to be us getting in someone’s face either.  After all, what we’re trying to talk to people about is two options- stay stuck in sin (and the consequences they’re likely facing or going to face) or make changes and enjoy life more.  Find that which is fuller and far more peaceful.

Now sometimes people are enjoying their sins.  And we may have to say a hard word in those cases.  Or we may need to wait until they face some consequences and are open to God’s Word for them.
In those difficult situations, pray, pray, and pray more for God to give you wisdom.

Dan Borkenhagen
Associate Pastor
Hope Lutheran Church & School

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Devotion 8.18.19

This is probably odd for a men’s devotion, but I want to start by asking you to reflect on this image and story of a woman.

Image result for woman dry jesus feet hair
36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”
40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[a] and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:36-50)

What makes her a great example of repentance?

She’s not even saying anything, but the heart of repentance is evident in not only her desire to be forgiven, but also in her actions which show she is willing to do anything for forgiveness.  No cost is too much.  No action, not even using her feet to dry a person’s feet, is too lowly for her.  She obviously wants to create some real change in life.

This may be a story about a woman, but I think it has a lot to inform us as men.  When God calls us to repentance, which is a daily walk, he asks us to count the cost.  And as we do so, to daily remind ourselves that there is no cost too great for that which we will receive in repentance. 

Dan Borkenhagen
Associate Pastor
Hope Lutheran Church & School

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Devotion 3.7.19

We’re starting a new series this week focused on the Lenten theme or repentance.  
A reminder that this Saturday is 2nd Saturday Men’s Breakfast.  Great breakfast tacos, great guys, and even greater building up of the faith.  8:30 AM at Rudy’s

Have you ever had something so troubling happen that you felt it in your gut…?
But it was also on your mind all the time….
Put you an emotional roller coaster…
And depressed your spirit…

We all know David has a life full of ups and downs.  Some weren’t his fault.  Others definitely were.  The Bible makes it clear that he was a sinful man.  And David doesn’t hide from his sins.  In Psalm 6 he gets real about how he’s feeling the weight of his wrongdoing in his body, in his mind, and on his soul.
Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath.
Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?
Turn, Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love.
Among the dead no one proclaims your name.  Who praises you from the grave?
I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes.

The beauty of repentance, and the deep repentance of the kind that David is doing, is that when your heart is poured out to God, you can come to a place where you say things like this…
Away from me, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping.
The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.

David has gone deep in repentance and he comes back up, like a person bursting up out water, and he takes a deep breath full of God’s mercy and forgiveness.  A deep breath that fills him back up and soothes his body, his mind, and his soul.

Don’t be afraid to go deep in repentance today as you talk to God, but make sure you take a huge gulp of grace too!

Dan Borkenhagen
Associate Pastor
Hope Lutheran Church & School

Devotion 3.6.19

We’re going to start a new series today, focused on the season of Lent.  Our district president, Rev. Newman has asked that churches start today with a day of repentance and so I’m going to start a series about repentance with his thoughts for this day.  What you read below comes from his words.
A reminder that this Saturday is 2nd Saturday Men’s Breakfast.  8:30 AM at Rudy’s- make it your first, make it your return to the group, just make it so you can hear God’s Words to you through the fellowship of brothers in the faith!

Having a day of repentance wasn’t my idea. It originated with one of the founders of our church, Dr. C.F.W. Walther. During every year of his ministry, as was customary from old European church-year traditions, Walther called his congregation and our church body to dedicate a day to repentance, a return to God’s ways, a course correction for individuals and the whole church.
Why repentance? Not because it earns God’s favor. Not because it makes us look pious and religious. No, repentance is a gift of God designed to bring us back home to His grace and wholeness. God beckoned His precious people in Isaiah 44: “Remember these things, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are my servant; I formed you; you are my servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me. I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.” Is. 44:21–22
Repentance slays selfish pride, turns us from sin’s siren call, quiets arrogant arguments, tames out-of-control egos, pulls us back from distraction, leads us to restoration of relationships, places us on the pathway of walking with God, and restores our hearts with compassion and grace.
We need this personally. We need this as schools and congregations. We need this as a district. We need this as a synod. We need this as Christ’s Church.
“God sows his heavenly seed upon our field more than anywhere else. So he expects that it will also have an abundant harvest among us, more than anywhere else in the world. God has diligently dunged and dug around the roots of the tree of our church as none other on the earth, so he seeks, therefore, a richer yield than from any other church in Christianity” (Joel R. Baseley, Tr., Occasional Sermons and Addresses of Dr. C.F.W. Walther, Dearborn, MI, Mark V Publications, 2008, 76).
Those are remarkable words for our little corner of God’s Kingdom, but as we repent, as we are turned away from ourselves and back to the One who formed us and forgave us, we will see Him accomplish more than we can ask for or imagine.
Joining you in repentance,
President Newman

Questions for Reflection that may help you on March 6th:

Read Acts 11:17-18. What is the source of repentance?
Read Daniel 9:3-19. What do you notice in Daniel’s prayer of repentance that guides you in your repentance?
Read Jeremiah 3:11-12. What do Jeremiah’s words teach you about God’s heart as you repent?
Read Acts 3:19-20. The purpose of repentance is to make us “hunger and thirst for mercy” (C.F.W. Walther, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel, CPH 1929, 253). What does God promise us when we repent of our sins?
Read Matthew 3:4-8. What, by God’s grace, follows repentance? How might this look in your life and in your congregation?
Prayer starter: Read Matthew 12:20-21 and thank God for His patience and mercy through Jesus our Savior. Share with God how you see Him leading you to change and grow in your life of faith and in your love for others.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Devotion 3.4.19

When you think of manhood, who comes to your mind?  Who do you picture . . . ?

No picture with this devotion is provided - I want you to really imagine something.  A person, maybe even a place or an object.  Maybe there are a few images that come to mind.

Why do these things come to your mind?  And given the devotions we’ve studied the last couple of weeks that discuss manhood through the lens of “king”, “warrior”, “magician”, and “lover” what would some good images be.  And when I say that, I  mean what are some mature images that are associated with these types of manhood?

Part of the struggle we have is that it’s one thing to reflect on being a mature man, but during our day we’re assaulted by a million things which challenge that. We have coworkers who belittle or betray us.  We have kids that talk back. We have media that surround us showing immature men or tempt us to go places in our minds that betray our values.  So what do we do in the midst of this struggle?

One technique mentioned in the book is to put an image squarely in our mind that is mature.  Maybe even to pair that image up with a phrase.  To borrow an earlier illustration, maybe you imagine General Patton and hear in your mind the phrase, “We are not holding anything, we are constantly advancing.”  So when the day is overwhelming you from a million directions and the instinct to pull back comes, you imagine Patton, you see his face, and you hear that quote, and you remember that God would not have you retreat, he would have you look the challenges you’re facing in the eye and strategically decide what you’re taking on next, where you’re advancing.

This is the concept of invoking and imagining.  Each of the traits we’ve mentioned have Scriptures I’ve associated with them and you can find others.  (e.g. for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Tim. 1:7)   Memorize just a few and put some image with them, so that when you feel that side of yourself challenged, you’re prepared and you have a place to go for strength, a place to go to remind yourself that masculinity is not toxic, but in its maturity,  it is an incredible gift from God.

Dan Borkenhagen
Associate Pastor
Hope Lutheran Church & School

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Devotion 3.2.19

What’s the difference between a fan and a fanatic….?

This is the question that we need to ask ourselves as we consider those things in the world that God has made us passionate about.  This is the question the book I’ve been reading would have us ask as we look at the difference between a “lover” and someone who’s become “addicted”.

In both cases, there’s some thing in this world, some tangible thing that fills the senses.  It can be cars. It can be a sports team.  It can be food, drink, love, clothes, working out, fishing…. The list can go on endlessly.  But what’s the difference?  It can be hard to define, and it can be hard to speak.  Others may see us fanatics, but we tend to think of ourselves as fans.  Of course I love______, I’m a big fan.

I would define the difference in this way.  Whatever the _____ is, it’s not intrinsically bad, but the fan does not get lost in the subject and is able to set up boundaries around their passion for it to keep their most important values first.  “Seek first the kingdom of God” is not just a nice passage, but a mantra they can live by.  They can love food but set limits on money and calories if they see harm coming.  They can love classic cars, but don’t skip church to go to the car show.  They get a rush when working out, but it is not the primary/only thing they talk about with others.  They love their kids, but they know that if there most important goal is their kids following God, their schedule should reflect following God and not other kid activities.

They will not let the pleasure of a moment in the ___________ surpass their core values and relationship with God.

Take a moment to talk to God about the things you love and enjoy.  Consider if you keep them in place.  Consider the time, money, and energy you contribute to them. Consider the things you would say are your highest values as a Christian man.  How are the two coming together?  Are their places they’re not working together? Be willing to let yourself have some honest conversations on this topic and set a goal coming out of it.

Dan Borkenhagen
Associate Pastor
Hope Lutheran Church & School

Monday, February 25, 2019

Devotion 2.25.19

This is the topic with the name that makes things feel awkward.  But the final character trait that is mentioned is…

The Lover

The authors pick this name for a reason, though I might prefer something like “The Artist”.

The key idea to this side of the mature man is that you have a deep appetite for life- for food, for love, for reproduction, for everything which involves sensation.  And in the healthy expression of this side of men, these desires for sensation of the physical world around us are pursued without shame and in a way that cares for others (doesn’t take advantage of the world around us in a self-gratifying way).

I like that the authors even highlight the way many of us experience this we become “buffs” or “fans” of something.  You’ve got the guys who love cars, the hard core fans who devote their clothing to a single team, and even the man who dedicates himself tasting every hot sauce in the known world.

Think for a while about some of those tangible things about which you’re passionate.  Celebrate them as gifts from God and at the same time consider how it fits within your identity as a Christian.  I love Paul’s advice to the Church in Corinth.
23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. . . .31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.  (1 Cor. 10:23-33)

Dan Borkenhagen
Associate Pastor
Hope Lutheran Church & School

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Devotion 2.22.19

Think of some of the most manipulative people you’ve ever met?  Or heard about?   Maybe someone from a movie even. . . .

How about Keyser Soze from “The Usual Suspects”.  (Spoiler Alert!!!)  Here you have a man who appears to be some low-level pawn and he convinces everyone, including a chief investigator, that he’s a nobody throughout the whole movie.  In the end, you find out he is the master manipulator and villain, Keyser Soze himself.  One of the great quotes of the movie is included in the picture below.

Image result for keyser soze
Manipulation is a telling of half-truths or a covering over of the truth by the holder of information.  The Devil loves that game.

But we all have times when we fall prey to this temptation.  The book we’re exploring refers to this side of us as “The Manipulator” or “Shadow Magician”.  Remember, this role of “Magician” in men is played out in the right way when we take on information and pass it on for the good of others.  The “Manipulator” also gathers information, but only doles it out for his own benefit and often at the expense of others.  How often are we tempted to tell half a story or omit half the details because doing so will paint us in a positive light at work… with our wife… with our kids… at church even….

So, it’s important that we not think of this role in our lives as just about being smart, or even wise.  All the information and insights we gather are only good when they are told in truth and for the building up of others.  Pray right now for wisdom and that God would help you find people you can speak the truth to.  People who will love you and help you grow into all God is forming you to be.

Dan Borkenhagen
Associate Pastor
Hope Lutheran Church & School

Devotion 2.21.19

Where and how should knowledge get passed on?  How do we help the next generation know what it is to be a man?  What is it to follow after God?  What do they need to know?

How about some tower diving like they do in Vanuatu, a small island in the Pacific?  That’s their male initiation rite.

Vanuatu Land Diving male rite of passage

Not your style, there are plenty of others but what does it look like for us as Christians…. As a church ….?

In the book I’ve been reading they focus a lot on the need for us to tap into the “magician” side of ourselves which passes on the special knowledge we’ve been given and to establish special times and places to pass it on.  One of the things we have going for us is that churches do have the feeling of sacred space.  When you enter in, most of us experience something that tells us this place is something different.  When someone starts teaching, most of us listen in a way that’s different from a regular day in our week. Something tells us important knowledge for our lives is being passed on. 

One of the keys then is that we don’t just experience the passing on, but that we also try to help the generations under us experience this sacredness and initiation.  We need to think about where we fit into that picture, not just with our own children, but with all the youth and children we’re surrounded with here at Hope.  As they come into the sacred space, they’re looking to be initiated and to hear “secret” knowledge passed on. 

I’ve had some men recently step up and help teach some rotations of our youth studies.  What a blessing.  I’ve had a couple of others who have helped with Sunday School.  During the summer a number of men go to Camp.  I’ve had conversations with a few who are really thinking about what it means for them (who may not be teachers) to still care for the next generation here.  Let’s all pray and consider how we can be part of that.

Dan Borkenhagen
Associate Pastor
Hope Lutheran Church & School

Devotion 2.20.19

Everyone loves learning secrets right…

Feeling like you’re on the inside of some type of knowledge is a powerful feeling.  And knowing can be used for good or bad.  The third archetype of masculinity that is discussed in the book we’re exploring is that of “Magician”.

Now when you hear this it sounds like something hokey from the past, but the author makes the point that whatever title you want to give it, there have always been people within our societies that have been the keepers and passers on of special knowledge.  As time moved forward, this became more specialized, with people who passed on knowledge in areas of science, technology, business, psychology, and yes religion, but regardless, there are things that can’t be learned simply from looking at the world, and they must be passed on by the “magicians”.

In faith, we speak about “general” and “special” revelation.  There are some things that people can look at and know about the world if they’re relatively honest, which is the general revelation.  People mess up and “sin”.  There are some things that are right (helping others) and some that are bad (e.g. stealing or murdering).  Even the existence of God or something bigger than man is obvious to most. 
But then there is also special revelation.  Everything in the Bible is largely God’s special revelation, the story of God creating and then reacting to the sin of his people by saving us through the sending of his son.  And while general revelation is good and helpful, it doesn’t finally bring us into relationship with God.  For that, we need the special knowledge.  But God doesn’t want it to be a secret.  He needs us to pass it on.  And for that, we must all take on the role of the “magician”, because we’ve had it passed on to us.  Think today of some specific times when someone passed on a truth about God to you. . . . Think about some opportunities for you to pass something on to the next generation as well.

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news! (Rom 10:14-15)

Dan Borkenhagen
Associate Pastor
Hope Lutheran Church & School

Monday, February 11, 2019

Devotion 2.11.19

Any admirers of General Patton out there?

I was reading about the idea of the warrior within men and the author referenced the movie and famous speech of Patton.  In it he says, “I don’t want to get any messages saying that we are holding our position….  We are advancing constantly and we aren’t interesting in holding anything!”  If you want to watch the clip, click here (but be warned, he’s a little blue in it)

We may not want to model ourselves on everything in Patton, but he powerfully speaks to the idea of the warrior.  This can get a bad rap and for a reason. There’s plenty of men who have taken the idea of a warrior and turned it into the right to be aggressive, demeaning, and dominate those who are less powerful than them.

But this isn’t the point of the warrior.  The warrior is about the energy that encourages us to “advance” in the face of trials. To look at the problems we have in life (whether it’s at work, home, church, or beyond) and to not sit still, but to rouse ourselves to take them head on.  It’s about taking risks to create, defend, and extend what God wants for us and those around us, even in the face of opposition.

I read that some churches have taken, “Onward Christian Soldiers” out of hymnals because it was too warlike or aggressive, but the metaphors in this song are powerful and they are Scriptural.  So I’ll close by placing the text below so we can consider how God is energizing us to take on whatever battles he has for us today.

1 Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before!
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle, see his banner go!
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before!
2 At the sign of triumph Satan's host doth flee;
On, then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!
Hell's foundations quiver at the shout of praise;
Brothers, lift your voices, loud your anthems raise! [Refrain]
3 Like a mighty army moves the church of God;
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod;
We are not divided; all one body we,
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity. [Refrain]
4 Onward, then, ye people, join our happy throng,
Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song;
Glory, laud, and honor, unto Christ the King;
This thro' countless ages men and angels sing. [Refrain]

Dan Borkenhagen
Associate Pastor
Hope Lutheran Church & School

Friday, February 8, 2019

Devotion 2.8.19

We’re starting a new series this week.  If you have any questions, thoughts, and comments, email me and I’d love to incorporate them.
Reminder- 2nd Saturday Men’s Breakfast is this weekend.  8:30 am at Rudy’s.

Who is the greatest king in history?

I found a list of the 10 Greatest Monarchs in world history and it was interesting to see why they were included.  Many of them focus on military accomplishments and how much territory they ruled.  But there are others who are praised for reforms in legal systems that benefitted all classes, their encouragement of the arts, freedoms granted, economic booms, and even encouragement of morality.

So what makes a “king”?
Image result for king louis xiv

In the book on mature masculinity I’m getting insights from for these devotions, it speaks of “king” as the first and most important archetype for men.  Very few men in history actually have been monarchs but all men draw on this concept.  The idea of a king is someone who is the father of a nation, who represents leadership even from God to the people, who cares for all people by encouraging and rewarding them, bringing calm to their fears, and stewards the resources of others.

What does this look like in regular men like us?  I like some examples from the book. This is what energizes us to take on the financial and psychological stresses of our family and be the calm in the midst of their storms while encouraging them to succeed in their own schooling, work, etc.  It’s what enables us to go to work and confront a rebellious subordinate without having to fire them.  Or to build a relationship with a coworker struggling who we encourage and support through addiction or other family crisis.  It’s the ideal that we will be a voice of calm and reassurance when things at work or church seem like they’re out of control and others are panicking.  The king cares for all and succeeds when they succeed.

Remember, “Whoever wants to be great amongst you, must become a servant.” (Matt 20:26)

Dan Borkenhagen
Associate Pastor
Hope Lutheran Church & School