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Despite All Logic, God Still Loves Me - By Pastor Thomas Engel

After a decision, we say, “That makes sense to me,” or we say, “Yea, I’m feeling it.”

When making a decision, we tend to go more to the side of logic or more to the side of emotion.

The side that we tend to go to depends a lot on our personality-type.

To say, even as we have a certain personality that is unique to us-if we want to make the best of ideas, we might have to give up some to add some.

If we are more on the side of logic, we might have to put our hearts out on our sleeves to make a more emotional decision.

And if we are more on the side of emotions, we might have to admit that using our heads instead of our guts is right for that decision.

My personality type is more on the touchy-feely side, so if I have to move to the logical side, I have to have a long talk with my emotions to tell them that they will be okay.

So, making the best decisions is to look at situations from many different angles.

When it comes to problem solving, we can ask, “For this time, what’s does the recipe for this stew of a decision call for?”

There is never an exact formula for life because we live with so many variables.

In all of our decisions, we can listen, do our research, look at data, find what the experts are saying, do a survey, ask questions, and stand in the place of others to feel and think what they are feeling and thinking.

So, if we have all these ingredients like critical thinking and empathy, and then, agreeing on the right amounts of things to put into the mix, why is the world so chaotic and our lives so messy at times?

To throw out an insight to the reason that things don’t mix right for us is that humans can be in one word, “stubborn.”

We have to admit at times that we can be both hard-headed and hard-hearted.

In our situations, we can get stuck in our thoughts and feelings, and even for the good of ourselves-we won’t budge.

Like a person like myself who finds he has an ache or a pain, but he won’t go to the doctor because he doesn’t want anyone telling him what to do.

Our egos can sure get the best of us, and we can be our own worst enemies.

It’s a real chore to try to keep figuring things out, isn’t it?

Don’t get me wrong-we need to keep trying, but on a human level-we are far from fixing the human condition.

It seems that we do get close at times, but then, we see another outburst of some horrific event in the world and another trial pops into our lives.

If you don’t mind, let’s go back a couple thousand years to a man who had trouble figuring out things, too.

Nicodemus was a religious leader of Jesus’ day. Talk about logic, he had a ton of it, and for feelings, I think he had some compassion about him, too.

To fast forward here, while other Pharisees conspired to kill Jesus and who felt accomplished when they did, it was this Pharisee, Nicodemus, who gave the aloes and spices to anoint Jesus’ body after his death on the cross.

So, this talk that we are about to get into that he had with Jesus must of had an effect on him.

At this first meeting with Jesus, Nicodemus was trying to see who Jesus was. Jesus caught his attention by the miracles that he was doing.

These signs of Jesus were catching a lot of people’s attention.

But, Nicodemus was not like other religious leaders who wanted to trap Jesus as a fraud. He sincerely wanted to know if Jesus did come from God.

So, to avoid a possible clash with his peers, Nicodemus, under the cover of the dark of night, went to Jesus to ask him some questions.

Nicodemus wanted a one-on-one talk with Jesus to get to the bottom of some important matters.

Jesus gave answers that flew over Nicodemus’ head.

Even for a spiritual leader, Nicodemus thought too much with his head and not enough with a mind and a heart that was open to the mysteries of faith.

At a human level, we understand the physical birth process, but at that same human level, we can never understand what it means to be born again to a life of faith.

When Jesus was talking about how a person is to be born again, Jesus was talking about baptism.

And for us, Lutherans, we get serious when it comes to baptism, for we know what happened when we were baptized-a whole new spiritual life began for us.

And it’s in this new life that we go about our lives, not as people of the world, but as children of a heavenly Father.

Our second birth by baptism is mostly incomprehensible to the human mind and heart.

We understand our first birth on a certain date that gave us physical life, and we celebrate our days of birth-“birthdays.”

With summer coming up, we have a lot birthdays coming up in my family.

On my budget, over the next months, I’m constantly going to one of those dollar stores to buy gifts.

Then, our second birth is on a certain date when we were baptized that gives us a new life in all things that come from God.

It’s in this second birth that we find wisdom, faith, and love from our God.

There is nothing in this world like this wisdom, faith, and love from God.

Here, it’s were I get a headache because I want to use words to tell you and to myself how this wisdom, faith, and love from our God works in our lives, but words, for the most part, fail to show us the depth of what God gives us.

Recently, I read a poem by William Carlos Williams. It’s a love poem, but as a love poem, it’s awful.

William Carlos Williams meant for it to be an awful love poem. He wants to show when a person deeply loves someone how it’s difficult to find the words to tell about that deep love.

The speaker in the poem imagines an apple tree in the spring when it’s in full bloom with its white blossoms.

Using the tree as a metaphor to describe how he sees his lover, he wants to share how he thinks she is so beautiful.

He begins the poem by saying his lover’s leg is like the trunk of the tree.

I’m sure most women don’t want their legs compared to a trunk of any tree.

To make a short analysis of the poem, William Carlos Williams is showing the frustration of how when using words to tell of something deep like love fall short.

Words after words can’t show us all that we have from God.

Human logic and emotions can’t grasp all that God has for us.

On this Holy Trinity Sunday, we know our Father created us, we know that Jesus, the Son of the Father, redeemed us, and we know the Holy Spirit guides us into all good things.

God gives us water and His Word, bread and wine that is the body and blood of Christ, and Scripture-these means of grace are most useful as they give and teach about the things that are necessary for our salvation.

But, there is so much more to know and understand about God that we will never know, for as humans, we can never fully comprehend all that God is.

Jesus taught in parables-earthly stories with heavenly meanings, but they still don’t show us, humans, with our limitations, the full glory of God.

When really thinking about it, from my human brain of logic and heart of feelings, I’m not sure how God can love me.

I know what kind of sinner that I have been. I know the hurt that I’ve caused God and other people by my sins.

I mean as a pastor I really should know better. Right?

And I do know better and that is what makes my sin so unexcusable and makes me even more ashamed when I do sin.

I am human, but shouldn’t I know better, anyways?

I try, but I still fall short.

In my guilt and shame, I am left to confess my sins, which I do, like you do, and we can hope that God will forgive us like Jesus did when he forgave those who mocked him when he was dying on the cross.

How can Jesus forgive those who mocked, whipped him, beat him, and left him to die on cross that was meant to punish criminals?

Only by faith, can we know how God the Father does forgive us in Christ and will take care of us as His beloved children by the Holy Spirit.

From a human standpoint, what God does for sinful humans is incomprehensible-it deifies logic and feeling.

We praise and thank our God who goes beyond our thoughts and feelings for us every day.

If I can challenge you at this time-if you are experiencing a problem right now, and I’m sure that you are because we always seem to be dealing with something.

This sounds like a strange thing to ask at first-can you not think so much about it with you head and your emotions?

When we spend too much time in our self-talk in our heads and mulling over our feelings, they tend to go more to the negative side, and in negativity, they get more complex, and in such complexity, they become problems so big that they can’t be solved.

To be sure, I’m not saying throw your thoughts and feelings out the window.

Although maybe we should throw them out for a time, for we need a time when we can let faith do its work-like a time to be still and mediate on how our God is full of grace, mercy, and love.

When we live by faith in our awesome God, things get sorted out.

Don’t let the simplicity of faith trip you up.

We need not try too much to figure it all out, but we can simply live in that new life of second birth by baptism with all of its benefits.

God defies our logic and emotions all the time.

That’s the mystery of faith-God works differently-much differently than we might expect.

One Bible story to show it. A little boy against a big giant.

A little boy with a slingshot and some smooth stones and the giant is a soldier with a huge sword.

Guess who wins. You know the answer. Why?

Because David went by faith in the things of God that deifies anything human.

I talked about throwing out our thoughts and feelings out the the window but not too far.

We can go back and get them, for they are of some use. After all, they are what we have from our first birth that made us living beings, but our logic and emotions are limited, even with the right mixes of them.

We need our minds to send emails of an agenda for our next Zoom meeting and our feelings to cry when our children walk across the stage to receive their diplomas.

But, we are more than what we think and feel. We have faith and the spiritual gifts from our second birth that came about at our baptism.

As people who are baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we see more than what is in front of us, we see in part now the kingdom of God, and we live in confidence that we will see it fully one day after we finish this life.

What joy we have on this Holy Trinity Sunday that we know more than our thoughts can come up with words to say and more than our hearts can ever feel how our God is loving us so much.

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