Steadfast Love #2


The Steadfast Love of the Lord, Post II

“Bless the Lord, O my soul,..who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy.” Psalm 103:1 and 4

On January 5, 2015, Pastor Kurt Lutjens and I were standing together in front of Ethan Yount (my grandson) and his intended bride, Allison Nurnberger. Pastor Kurt and I were sharing the honor of uniting Ethan and Allison in marriage. What a great joy it was to lead them in their sacred vows and then pronounce them man and wife, “in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

But, what a dreadful surprise it was to learn just a few weeks after the wedding that Pastor Kurt Lutjens was in the grip of a deadly cancer, stage-four metastatic angiosarcoma. Kurt’s three loving children, Heidi, Jeff and Carrie stayed beside their dear father during his next few weeks of agonizing pain. Then on March 29, 2019, Kurt died peacefully, entering into the eternal glory which God has promised “to all who have loved His appearing.” II Timothy 4:8.

On a last visit to Kurt’s bedside, I read the first 14 verses of Psalm 103, partially quoted above. Three times in that passage King David refers to the steadfast love of the Lord. I am convinced that it was that steadfast love of God that enabled Kurt to be the loving, caring, nurturing pastor that he proved to be during his 23 years of pastoring Grace and Peace Fellowship.  Just as Jim Ward was enabled to teach music to children because of the steadfast love of God at work in his heart, so Pastor Kurt Lutjens was enabled to pastor his people through the steadfast love of God performing its miracle of grace in Kurt’s heart.

Pastor Kurt was intimately acquainted with the DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS, the awesome wonder that most fully expresses the steadfast love of God to all of us. Kurt’s whole life reflected the wonder of God’s love expressed to him personally in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and the bodily resurrection of the Savior from the grave. Through this wonder of the Savior’s redemption in Kurt’s behalf, he experienced the joy of the new birth and enablement of the Holy Spirit to give his life in service to his family, his congregation and the lost world.

A KEY OPINION OF PAUL ALEXANDER: That the “Steadfast love of God” theme, so powerfully and so frequently proclaimed in scripture is especially crucial for a pastor. I am convinced that our loving Lord Jesus works in a pastor’s heart to fill him with this wonderful grace, the “Steadfast love of God.”

I reminded you in my last post that this beautiful theme occurs 117 times in the Psalms. Alongside that simple fact, take notice also that it occurs prominently in the dedication of Solomon’s Temple (II Chron. 5:13, I Kings 8:10-11).  In that same passage we are informed that the cloud of God’s glory filled that temple so wonderfully, so overpoweringly, that the priests could no longer stand there. The awesome glory of this occasion was a forecast of the supreme Glory of God that came upon us in the DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS. In this pair of wonderful events, the “Steadfast love of God” comes to its most glorious expression.

Pastor Kurt Lutjens was one of those dear brothers in Christ who was ministering humbly to his beloved people. We should recognize him as a miraculously blessed brother who was, in effect, clothed in the “Steadfast love of God” in a way that enabled his ministry at every step along the way.   

At my invitation Kurt visited Ukraine with me in October and November, 2011. It was my great joy to see the Holy Spirit at work in Pastor Kurt, ministering to Ukrainians.  At that time, I led an adult leadership seminar on MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY, and then traveled to the city of Izmail to lead worship and minister in a small church. Kurt was working alongside me on these occasions. You can see him pictured with me and others in the picture attached.  Through our time together, I was deeply pleased with the loving and thoughtful care Kurt was showing our Ukrainian brothers and sisters. It was evident to me that the Holy Spirit was graciously enabling Kurt to reach across the culture barrier and touch the hearts of our Ukrainian friends. The “Steadfast love of God” was enabling my brother Kurt.

During this time Kurt’s minear’s disease and my chronic esophogeal distress periodically attacked us.  Our mutual care for each other had to come into play.  We were two struggling old guys trying to minister to others in spite of our own ailments. Comradeship is what you call that. The Holy Spirit’s enablement was crucial to the whole process. And I could tell you so much more! Another time.

Kurt’s funeral on Saturday, April 6, was a grand “Amen” to his ministry at Grace and Peace Fellowship. On that grand occasion, we heard two powerful sermons preached by African American pastors who had been Pastor Kurt’s associates.  The music, scripture reading, and prayer were beautifully joined in a God-honoring, soul-refreshing way that the Holy Spirit could use to enable all of us to glorify our Lord. Furthermore, we heard stories about Pastor Kurt’s ministry which were too numerous to list, but I have to tell you at least one – one that reflects the pattern of his life.   

It is a very brief story.  A couple signed up for six to eight sessions of premarital counseling.  Instead of their prescribed six to eight sessions, they received 34!  And, as I understand it, that was not overkill.  They needed 34 sessions!  Wonderful that pastor Kurt was willing and able to meet their need.

And that brief story is important to me personally.  My grandson, Ehtan Yount and his new bride, Allison Nurnberger were scheduled to receive postmarital counseling which Pastor Kurt had scheduled for them. His premarital counseling had brought them to their wedding as mentioned above.  Since our dear brother Kurt Lutjens has now entered his heavenly home, he will not be conducting those counseling sessions.

It seems to me that this is the right place to end this blog-post.  We have far too few of those Pastor Kurt Lutjens types around these days. Who will step in to give those post-marital counseling sessions for Ethan and Allison?

And just how do we go about developing that kind of pastors for our churches, communities, mission stations around the world?  Our Seminaries and our Presbyteries are struggling with this issue.  We must all be praying fervently for our great God to answer those prayers and help us fill our pastorates and mission fields with men whose lives are filled with the “Steadfast love of God.”

Furthermore, I want to assure you that God is answering this prayer.  God is supplying pastors whose hearts are filled with the “Steadfast love of God,” The Holy Spirit is powerfully at work in the world drawing people to Himself (John 12:32), working in their hearts the twin miracles of Repentance and Faith. 

I regard this as the most mighty power at work in our world today! The Holy Spirit is that power.

And that same Holy Spirit is at work in your heart, enabling your giving and praying for the worldwide triumph of our great Lord and Savior.

                                                                                                –Pastor Paul Alexander

Steadfast Love #1


The Steadfast Love of the LORD Post #1

 “Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master.” Genesis 24:27

          While I was a pastor in Huntsville, Alabama, I invited our favorite singer-musician Mr. James Ward to help with the music at our summer youth camp, Camp Agape.  This happened sometime in the late 70’s, early 80’s. For five days Jim gave himself with his musical gifts to our young people at camp. His teaching was an amazing spectacle, beautifully enabling all of us to celebrate together “The Steadfast Love of the Lord.”  

          Jim captivated those kids with his remarkable skills. He played the piano with both hands, his left foot on the peddle. Then, while singing lustily he was standing up and dancing on his right foot. His performance in front of those kids was a formidable display of enthusiasm and athleticism mixed with exquisite musical talent. Those kids were charmed out of their sox, they sang their hearts out. I am confident that many of them still remember with delight their week under Jim Ward’s able and exciting leadership. Always pointing to His Savior, Jim led us heart and soul in celebration of our Lord’s saving love for us all.

          We have to ask, “What in the world enabled Jim Ward to be such an inspired teacher of Christian music?!” You might be scratching your head about that question, but I am convinced that I know the answer. It is very simple. The Holy Spirit had filled Jim’s heart with the wonderful reality of the DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS!

          The redeeming work of Jesus dying on the cross and then rising bodily from the grave were not just religious stories that Jim heard from his parents and pastor. They were wonderful realities, historical events that towered over his life filling him with joy and compelling him to express that joy with compelling energy and love. In his teaching of gospel music Jim’s whole life became a vibrant interpretation of our Lord’s death and resurrection.  He has been teaching the daylights out of us ever since!  

­­          KEY TO THIS BLOG SERIES:  In the first blog post of this series I am signalizing this magnificent Biblical phrase: The steadfast love of the Lord.  This phrase is used for the first time in the Bible in the 24th chapter of Genesis. In this chapter we see Abraham’s servant Eleazar using this phrase 4 times. Each time Eleazar uses the phrase he is asking God to show His steadfast love to Abraham in the simple matter of finding a wife for Isaac, Abraham’s son. In later passages you will see it used for many loving acts of our great Trinitarian God.

I want you to take special note of this phrase. It will remain important in this entire series. The ESV version of the Bible is the version that translates these words with this beautiful expression: The steadfast love of the Lord. It is used 117 times in the Psalms alone and occurs in many other important scripture passages throughout the Old Testament. We are well advised to see it as a major theme of the Old Testament and of the whole Bible. We should see this beautiful phrase as a prophecy of wonderful things to come, even of the gospel itself.

Though this phrase is not used in the New Testament, we should see the reality of “the steadfast love of the Lord in the most familiar text in the Bible. That has to be John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have ever lasting life.”Yes, we shouldsee John 3:16 as fulfillment of prophecy inherent in the phrase “the steadfast love of the Lord.” This magnificent phrase, so often used in the Old Testament, comes to its supreme fulfilment in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Savior.  

Though Jesus does not explain the details of this important fact to Nicodemus, the Savior was fully aware that his own DEATH AND RESURRECTION, wasthe only thing that could transform Nicodemus, sweep him into the Kingdom of God, and give him hope for eternal life. This two-fold event, the Savior’s DEATH AND RESURRECTION is God’s most glorious display of The Steadfast Love of the Lord. In the simple words of John 3:16, Nicodemus was hearing this from the lips of our dear Savior Himself. This was wonderful good news for Nicodemus and for all of us poor sinners.

This will be the theme of this series of blog-posts. I will summarize. The Steadfast love of the Lord has been beautifully and powerfully demonstrated to us needy sinners through the DEATH AND RESURRECION of our LORD Jesus Christ. He, our LORD Jesus Christ, is at work in history today saving us sinners from our sin and enabling us to live God glorifying lives in this present world, all this through the DEATH AND RESURRECTION of our LORD Jesus Christ.

There is so much to unpack in that summary statement. In these blog-posts, I will begin with an illustration or two or three, such as I just gave you in my JAMES WARD story. I will go on from there with a brief study of just how the first disciples and apostles were impressed with the death and resurrection of Jesus and how they responded.  I will be watching for your responses and responding if need be. Then, I will continue with deeper examinations of texts and doctrines which help us all understand the beauty, the wonder and the infinite love of God set before us so powerfully in our Savior’s acts of redemption.

Along the way I will give some attention to the failures and causes of failure in the church today. These have real importance and significance for us, BUT, my main point will remain our praise to God for His Steadfast Love, and thanksgiving to Him for the saving power of the DEATH AND RESURRECTION of our LORD Jesus Christ.

Please join me in this thoughtful, prayerful effort to minister to each other and bless our world through this blog and its various posts.

                                                                            –Pastor Paul Alexander