Elder, Usher, and Acolyte Schedules for August 2015

Elder and Usher Schedule

Date
8:30
Elder
10:30
Aug 2Daryle Schempp, Gerald Semelka, John Hardy, Mike FieldPaul GerikeBrian Dirks, Nick Henson
Aug 9Ben Holland, Jeff PiperNathan KluenderGreg McNeely, Ryan Kleiboeker, Theron Noth
Aug 16Gene Fuller, Joshua Parry, Nathan Kluender, Richard RossJohn HardyBryan Reichert, Mike Huth
Aug 23Paul Gerike, Steve ParryBarry HamlinBud Kessler, Holden Lueck, Marvin Huth
Aug 30Charles Nottingham, Daryle Schempp, Gerald Semelka, John HardyCraig CulpBrian Dirks, Nick Henson, Ryan Kleiboeker

Acolyte Schedule

Date
8:00 AM
10:30 AM
Aug 2Anna HollandPastor/Elder
Aug 9Pastor/ElderJustin McNeely
Aug 16Garett SheleyPastor/Elder
Aug 23Pastor/ElderChristian Dowell
Aug 30J.T. PiperCruz Kleiboeker

Stewardship Corner August 2015

Busyness is the new black. It’s stylish. We spend an inordinate amount of time comparing how busy we are with everyone else. We compare our schedules, our kid’s schedules, how productive we are and how much we have because of it to everyone around us. And if we don’t do or have what the next guy does or has, we just get busier and produce more so that we can.

This consumes our conversations and thoughts. And this should give us pause: Who is consuming whom, here? Are we the consumer or are we those consumed? It’s no accident that our adversary the devil is described as a lion prowling around seeking to devour us, to consume us. He gives us the liturgy of this world, the liturgy of productivity and consumption. For if he can keep us busy in “muchness” and “manyness,” he can be satisfied.

And this is why the Lord, after finishing all His work of creation, rested on the seventh day. This is why He established the Sabbath day—to give His people rest from all their work. As they rested, He continued to work for them, to satisfy them, to fill them with His gifts—food from heaven by His Word and Promise.

That day came when from our Lord’s cross and in His death, He proclaimed, “It is finished” (John 19:30). And so His work of redemption was complete. And so His body rested in the tomb, the belly of the earth. Though He is the Lord God who always works, yet as the Lord rested on the original Sabbath, now Jesus kept the Sabbath by resting in the tomb and rising from the dead to live forever. For this is why He came. This is why He became man: to draw all to Himself so that He could give rest and refreshment to the weary and the heavy laden.

The Sabbath is a gift, not a burden. It is a gift of time free from the liturgy of this world, the liturgy of productivity and consumption. Sabbath is time for rest and refreshment, a time free from anxiety to enjoy the gifts God gives, all of them—His Word, His Promises, His Sacraments, His creation, everything. It is a foretaste of the rest we shall enjoy in heaven.

Sadly for many of us rest has become work. It’s become drudgery. We long for it but we aren’t able to do it because there’s so much to be done and so little time to do it.  But really what’s the rush? Why are we so hurried and harried? Have we forgotten that Jesus is raised from the dead and lives forever?

Sabbath is God’s gift of time free from all of the anxiety and hurry of this world so that we can rest, be refreshed by the gifts God gives. Society won’t do it for us. They are addicted to the liturgy of productivity and consumption. Though we are in the world, we are not of it. We are the people of God, His own children by water and Word, joined to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus lives. And so shall we. So rest in the promise of our Savior that sin, death, and time have not hold on you because Jesus is raised from the dead. Jesus lives. And so shall we, forever.

Celebrating August 2015

Birthdays

8/1 Georgia Boriack
8/2 Ryne Brewer
8/3 Vicki Miller
8/5 Paul Gerike
8/5 Eric Schneider
8/9 Jeanette Ross
8/10 Bryan Benjamin
8/11 Clayton Piper
8/11 Emilia Schempp
8/12 Brian Dirks
8/15 Jacqueline Kwasny
8/16 Kristina Warren
8/18 Becky Love
8/22 Kitti Miller
8/24 John Campbell
8/24 Michael Huth

Baptismal Birthdays

8/7 Deborah Huber
8/11 Andrew Benjamin
8/15 Phoenix Kleiboeker
8/23 Stephanie Schempp
8/24 Paul Gerike
8/25 Eric Schneider

Pastor’s Notes – August 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Anticipation.  As you are reading this what are you anticipating or looking forward to?  My immediate anticipation as I am typing this is for ballgames this afternoon and this evening for Karson and Holden.  Then I am anticipating the Church Anniversary weekend.  Then it is a trip Karson and I are taking to college to visit the LC-MS churches in the area, and then it will be our vacation.  Two days after vacation it is on to Olivet Nazarene and leaving our oldest on his own for the first time.  Do I really look forward to that?  Yes and no.  Yes, because he is ready to be on his own.  No, because I will miss him around the house, at church, just seeing him on a daily basis, which I have for over 18 years.

Life is like that.  We live for today but there is always something in the future to anticipate.  We have to live like that or when things happen we will not be ready.  Now granted some things cannot be anticipated.  The doctor with news of a disease when you had no symptoms.  A car crash that leads to months of therapy and recovery.  A spouse or child with news you never anticipated hearing.  I anticipate three games today, but it is raining.  The plans could change.

Some of you my age and older may recall the Heinz Ketchup commercial where Carly Simon sings “Anticipation” and the ketchup bottle slowly pours the ketchup onto the burger.  Heinz was selling the thickness of their product and how the taste was worth waiting for.

Do you ever think of your spiritual life in those terms?  Do you anticipate being in worship with your fellow believers?  Do you look forward to the return of Jesus?  Do you have a longing for eternity while still knowing the Lord has work for you here on earth?  Think of the anticipation of the Old Testament believers as they waited for a Savior.  It must have been slower than a bottle of ketchup!  But when Christ came humbly onto the world scene in the form of a human – what a change.  The anticipation was worth it.  Grace, and mercy, and forgiveness, and eternity, and eternal love, and a never- ending presence.  What a blessing for all those who anticipated.

Sometimes what we anticipate never measures up.  Sometimes it can exceed our expectations.  That is what Jesus did and continues to do.  Oh, the blessings.  What’s next?  Anticipate – because with the Lord in control it is going to wonderful.

In Christ,

Pastor

Bulletin Announcements – July 26, 2015

†  Bulletin Announcements  †

July 26, 2015

THOUGHTS ON STEWARDSHIP:  Ephesians 3:20: “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think. . .” We often shortchange God by failing to remember what Paul says here: God can do far more than what we can think or ask. His power, and His love, are without bound and without measure. So why do we fear to follow His word? Isn’t it in fact fear that keeps us back from a life of joyous generosity and open-handedness? But God is able to do far more abundantly! So let us not be afraid to take the Lord at his Word and live according to it.

PASTOR’S SCHEDUE: Pastor, Toni, Karson and Holden leave this Wednesday, (July 29th), as they vacation in Holden Beach, North Carolina. Provided he suffers no shark bites Pastor will return to the office on Thursday, August 6th. In Pastor’s absence should you need pastoral care please contact your Elder. If unsure of your Elder, please check the Elder Board in the narthex. Thank you.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR for Good Shepherd’s Annual Church Picnic to be held on Sunday, August 23rd at 12:00 p.m. at Tipton Trails Park in Bloomington. Watch for more details to follow.

LUTHERAN WORLD RELIEF SCHOOL KITS: It’s that time again for the LWML’s Project: Lutheran World Relief School Kits. We need your help on filling the book bags. Each bag needs the following: (4) 70 sheet Notebooks; (1) Ruler; (1) Pencil Sharpener; (1) Scissors; (5) #2 pencils; (5) Black or Blue Ballpoint pens; (1) box of 16 or 24 Crayons and (1) 2½” eraser. Any questions please feel free to call Joann Hart at (309) 310-9205. Thank you for your help!

“PRAISE GOD FROM WHO ALL BLESSINGS FLOW”: The Organ Repair and Update Fund for Good Shepherd’s 20th Anniversary exceeded its goal of $13,325.00. As of July 20th, our total gifts were $14,166.73. Our congregation has certainly been blessed. Great Is Thy Faithfulness!  The 20th Church Anniversary Committee

BLOOD DRIVE: Good Shepherd’s Red Cross Blood Drive will be on Monday, September 28th. In order to be eligible (56 days between blood donations) for our drive please give by the end of this month. We look forward to seeing you and your veins in September.

FELLOWSHIP HOSTS: The sign-up for help with coffee/doughnuts is posted on the wall by the north stairwell. We need an individual/family to sign-up each week to pick up the donuts and make the coffee. If no one is signed up by Friday of each week, the order will be cancelled. We thank everybody who continues to help with this part of our church fellowship.

CAN YOU HELP?: The International House at Illinois State, where we serve a meal each year, is looking for host families for International Students when they first arrive this August. If you are interested please speak with Pastor Lueck who has the information. Also, Pastor or his family members can tell you about the experience if you have questions.

THE LUTHERAN HOUR: “What Is Truth?” is the topic for next Sunday. The sermon text will be from John 18:38. Flawed human reason has lost sight of God’s divine truth. The speaker will be Reverend Gregory Seltz. Hear this Sunday’s message on the Lutheran Hour on WGN (720) at 6:00 a.m.; WJWR (104.7 FM) and WJWR (90.3 FM) both on Sunday at 3:00 p.m. Also, if you can receive Lincoln, IL radio station WLLM (1370 AM) the program is broadcast two times on Sunday at 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Tune in! You can also listen to The Lutheran Hour on your personal computer at RealAudio, www.lhm.org.

PRAYER CHAIN: If you have a prayer request please submit them by email to Mary Anne Kirchner at makirchner@yahoo.com or you may phone a Prayer Request to Mary Anne; her home # is (309) 661-6522; her cell phone# is (309) 532-2582. The Prayer Request box is on the table in the narthex for any written requests

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“THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’ – OR ARE THEY?” (7-12-15) Text: Amos 7:7-15

July 12, 2015 Text: Amos 7:7-15

Dear Friends in Christ,

          Sometimes in sermon preparation you get what I like to call a layup, a pitch right down the middle, a tap-in birdie. Last week and this week in our Old Testament lessons we have had words from our Lord that have been right in the sweet spot. Last Sunday it was Ezekiel and his taking the word of the Lord to the rebellious Israelites. Today it is the prophet Amos and a similar message. It is no coincidence that we would have these readings in the Sundays following a court ruling that goes against “Thus says the Lord God.” My fellow Pastors and I mentioned at this week’s convention how the Lord placed these readings on a tee in light of what is swirling around us.
Last Sabbath we were “Up Against It.” Today we want to focus in on one of our thoughts. We feel that life is coming at us at warp speed and we are being run over. We long for the days of old and for the times to be “like when I was a kid.” We look at the days and figure that the Lord has to be returning soon. It cannot go on like this. These are the same thoughts of Amos and his contemporaries. The plumb line is out of whack, the building is going to fall, the culture will crash to the earth. We get these crazy notions in our head that it has never been this bad. Well, yes, it has. Over and over again. Check your history and it will become clear. Our theme then will be a statement and a question.
“THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’ – OR ARE THEY?”
The Lord always has a plan even if we don’t always understand it. In our text a herdsman and dresser of sycamore figs named Amos would execute this plan. “Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, ‘Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel. The land is not able to bear all his words.’ For thus Amos has said, ‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel must go into exile away from his land.’” (vs. 10-11)
Simply put, God sent Amos to speak his Word – without compromise – to address the gross idolatry of His people. He sent Amos to preach repentance and to draw them to God’s love. The statement by Amaziah stands out, “The land is not able to bear all his words.” You see, the land cannot bear the Word of God. It can’t stand the truth. The Times They Are A-Changin’ – Or Are They?
“And Amaziah said to Amos, ‘O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, and eat bread there, and prophesy there, but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.’” (vs. 12-13)
Amaziah does not give a sound refutation of God’s Word spoken by Amos. There is nothing to show that Amos had misrepresented God. Amos is branded a hatemonger. A troublemaker. A narrow-minded man of God who doesn’t understand how humans are “supposed” to think – according to humans. He is in the wrong place at the wrong time doing what is not accepted by social convention. The Times They Are A Changin’ – Or Are They?
The way it was for the church at the time of Amos is the way it is for the church today. For all the changes we see, in so many ways nothing changes at all. And so, as we consider the hatred of God’s Word down through the centuries, what do we do?
“For God so loved the world.” I pray you and I know those words well. The truth of that has not changed since Jesus spoke it. The truth of it is rooted in Genesis 3:15, the first promise of the Christ. In spite of its rebellion and anger and hatred of God’s Law, He loved the world – you and me and all those who think they have changed our society for the better – so much that He gave his One and Only Son to bear the punishment and payment for every sin of every human. “Whoever believes will not perish but have eternal life.”
C.S. Lewis said something that is appropriate here. “We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments, and, on the other, that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven. The only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection.”
Lewis realized the battle going inside our souls. We struggle and strive to seek God’s will and ways. Though sin is still very much in us and we fail miserably, the battle against our sin doesn’t cease until the grave. And though we fail daily, God daily forgives our sin for the sake of Jesus.
The world doesn’t like that message because it forces the world to humble itself and confess its sin. That’s a real affront to human self-righteousness. But it doesn’t make any difference. It is still the message entrusted to us, regardless of how it’s received. And there is no way to soften its impact without compromising it.
Yes, we get caught up in lots of things on a daily basis. Nothing though is more important than how the Love of God in Christ Jesus touches our lives, helps and gives us strength in times of challenges and is preparing us for our eventual end here. There are lots of things about people we know and love and even those we don’t care for that are momentarily important, but none more important than the fact that when they cease to breathe, they will walk into eternal bliss or eternal damnation. No door will open and bring them back. There are no second chances. We need to pray on that each day as the Holy Spirit works through His means.
Even as things seem to progress and change the Word of our Lord and His love for us will never change. What a comfort and blessing for you and I.
Amen.

“UP AGAINST IT” (7-05-15) Text: Ezekiel 2:1-5

July 5, 2015 Text: Ezekiel 2:1-5

Dear Friends in Christ,

          Albert Einstein, the German-born mathematician, slowly watched his homeland give in to Adolf Hitler’s fascist dictatorship. Einstein wondered if anyone would stand to oppose Hitler. He said, “When Hitlerism came to Germany, I expected the universities to oppose it. Instead, they embraced it. I hoped for the press to denounce it, but instead they propagated its teachings. One by one the leaders and institutions that should have opposed Nazi philosophy bowed meekly to its authority. Only one institution met it with vigorous opposition, and that was the Christian church.” The commitment of at least a part of the church to stand against evil, regardless of the consequences, made a profound impression on Albert Einstein. He confessed, “That which I once despised, I now love with a passion I cannot describe.”
This is the July 4th weekend and like the German Christians of the past and Ezekiel in our text we are in the midst of a nation of rebels. We see all about us those that have rebelled against God’s Word. Can the church do any less today than those who stood on the Word of God in the midst of a rebellious nation? We know it, we see it, and we are living it . . .
“UP AGAINST IT”
In our text, the prophet Ezekiel was up against it as well. As opposed to a call coming from a church, Ezekiel receives his directly from God. “Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak with you.” (v. 1) God never addresses Ezekiel by name; he calls him “son of man” as a reminder of his weakness. This prophet is going out in weakness but has the Lord behind him.
We too address our fellow countryman in our sinful weakness. We stand in shame before a holy God and wonder what He can do with us. Like Ezekiel he has plans for us and He stands behind us with his strength and wisdom. Look at what the Lord does for Ezekiel.
“And as he spoke to me, the Spirit entered me and set me on my feet, and I heard him speaking to me.” (v. 2) He receives the supreme Helper, the Spirit of God. He also is given the Word of God. This supplies the power that he will need when he is up against it.
We have been given this same power. We have 66 different books of the Bible that provide our direction and give us strength. It sounds so simple but it is true, as Luther said, it is “a mighty shield and weapon” when we are up against it.
What is Ezekiel up against? Verses 3 and 4 provide the answer, “And he said to me, ‘Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. The descendants are also impudent and stubborn: I send you to them.’” What do you think Ezekiel was thinking? “Alright, let’s go, this sounds like a fun challenge.” For Ezekiel this was an official assignment to a heathen nation.
When you look at our rebellious, impudent transgressors among us that put you up against it, what do you think? Are you ready to stand strong or do you want to wilt like a flower back into the ground? We too have no choice. We are Christians who stand on the Word of God and this is our official assignment.
The assignment for Ezekiel and for us is so, so simple. “You shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’” (v. 4) The prophet speaks God’s Word regardless of cost or results. Ezekiel was accountable only for being faithful in speaking God’s Word, not for the results: “And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them.” (v. 5) Most of you know how the story ends. Israel plugged its ears, continued in their stubbornness, and received the wrath of God. Ezekiel was not held responsible. Eventually many would accept the truth of God’s message that he was sent to proclaim.
That message is Jesus came and kept the Law perfectly. He didn’t rebel against the Father’s desire. His perfect obedience pays for mankind’s continual rebellion. His death is our life. He can and does take away all sins. Christ first spoke through the prophets like Ezekiel and now He speaks for Himself. He sends us His Spirit, which comforts us. Through the church’s ministry we are bold as we receive the gifts of God’s Word and the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion.
Let’s be honest. Today we feel up against it. Supreme Court rulings, the overall nastiness and perversion of people, the universities, the press, and even the White House all buying in. We want to celebrate our country but it’s hard. I find it hard just to leave my house. I had another experience this week with the desecration of Jesus’ name in a public place – a local baseball game. I said what needed to be said and moved on. God will provide the result there.
We are given the command today: “say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.” That’s not your judgment, don’t let them play that card, it is God’s judgment through His inspired, inerrant Word and that will ever change.
The hymn composer Jan Bender once carried a painful melody in his memory for over thirty years. This memory was only overcome by the power of God’s Word.
Bender was a student of composer Hugo Distler. At age 34 Distler ended his life because he had been charged by the Nazis to write melody to celebrate the triumphs of the Third Reich. He did, but the tune was far from triumphant. Within its notes you can hear oppression and souls in distress.
Jan Bender did not forget them. He carried this around for thirty years. He then asked professor Martin Franzmann to put the music to words. He did and we just sang it, “Weary of All Trumpeting.” He taught us to sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land.
Franzmann’s words capture the painful truth of our sinful sad existence: the ways of this world kill spiritually and make us weary. The heathen of our nation are doing a lot of trumpeting and it will continue. But remember: Christ died so that all of His people, wherever and whenever they suffer, might never despair, but might hear above the banter of our noisy fallenness, that single strong triumphant trustworthy word: “In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (Jn. 16:33) That powerful memory transforms our inner being when we are up against and brings life through Christ our Savior.
Amen.

“EXCELLED AT GENEROSITY” (6-28-15) Text: 2 Corinthians 8:1-9, 13-15

June 28, 2015 Text: 2 Corinthians 8:1-9, 13-15

Dear Friends in Christ,

          I’m going to describe a congregation for you. It’s one from about twenty-five years after Jesus rose from the dead. The people lived in poverty. Civil wars had decimated their country. Then the Romans came out and finished the job. They had high taxes. Most people had very little to live on. The small congregation was not welcome in the town, and the members may have been unemployed, ostracized or even beaten.
Now this church would seem to be a prime candidate for another congregation’s help, for someone to show them generosity in their great need. And you would be wrong. Paul had started congregations in Macedonia – you know them as the Philippians and Thessalonians – and even Paul didn’t expect any generous giving from them. He knew the tough conditions they lived in. But when Paul got up a collection for the church in Jerusalem, which was living under even worse conditions, these Macedonian churches gave willingly. They gave joyfully. They gave generously. They gave to fellow believers they had never met and probably would never see. Paul called this gift of money an act of grace. These churches . . .
“EXCELLED AT GENEROSITY”
Now I’m going to tell you of another congregation. This one too is from the early years of the church. It was in a good location. Some of the members had money and were well known in the community. Some were knowledgeable and gifted speakers. This congregation had started a collection for the church in Jerusalem nearly a year earlier. They had a plan. They set aside money every week so that they would meet their goal when Paul sent Titus to collect it.
Doesn’t this place sound like a church that would be generous and giving? Well, once again you would be wrong. This congregation, the Corinthians, needed some encouragement from Paul. They had fallen behind in their collection. They had slacked off. The giving was irregular and then went away. You’ve caught the irony haven’t you? The poverty-stricken congregations gave generously, more than they could; the richer congregation failed in this act of grace; they let their giving wither.
In our text, then, St. Paul challenges the Corinthians to excel at generosity. He gives them the Macedonians as a congregation to emulate. The Philippians and Thessalonians could be guiding models for other churches. Give joyfully. Give as an act of grace, not because you feel forced. Give because it has become second nature to you. Excel in generosity.
What does someone need to be a really good pianist? Some answers could be: a good teacher, practice, goals, a love for music, devotion to the task, talent.
To excel at something means you have to have a reason to practice, to give yourself to the task and to study. Paul gives the Corinthians that reason: Jesus.
Jesus is incredibly rich. All of the heavenly glories are His. He is God himself, eternally worthy of all praise and honor. Yet, He became poor for us. On that first Christmas, he humbled himself and became one of us. He lowered himself to be born. He left no doubt He had come in poverty – a barn, a royal line yet a poor family, visiting shepherds instead of a palace guard. He became obedient under the law for one purpose: to make us rich. He became obedient even to death on a cross to give us the riches of being forgiven and restored to God’s family.
In the state of Mizoram, India they have been excelling at generosity for over 100 years. Back in 1910, the women of Mizoram would save a handful of rice from every meal and give it to the church. This helped the church to grow. Today this tradition continues. And the generosity extends beyond the rice. They give their tithes, fruits and vegetables and other items that can further the mission of the Christian Church there. Today in Mizoram state, in the northeast of India, over 95% of the people are Christians and the churches are growing and self-supporting. They have excelled at generosity that started with a handful of rice. In the You Tube video I watched you could see their joy as they served their Lord and Savior.
Jesus’s act of grace on the cross is the reason for these Christians to excel in generosity. It is our reason as well. We are so blessed in Jesus that our generosity can be second nature. Paul urged the Corinthians to excel at generosity and we are encouraged to do the same.
Amen.

“THE WORD PRODUCES BY ITSELF” (6-14-15) Text: Mark 4:26-29

June 14, 2015 Text: Mark 4:26-29

Dear Friends in Christ,

          Dr. Fred Craddock was a professor of New Testament and Homiletics at Emory University in Atlanta. He tells this story about his father.
Dr. Craddock’s father didn’t go to church and was extremely critical of the church. Every now and then a minister would come to their home and talk to the father about the church. Mr. Craddock would always say, “I know what you fellows down there at the church want. You want another name and another pledge. Right? Isn’t that the business you’re in? Another name and another pledge.”
This always embarrassed Dr. Craddock’s mother. She would withdraw to the kitchen and cry. Sometimes another person would come with the minister. But the father always held his ground. “You don’t care about me! You want another name and another pledge. That’s how the churches operate. You don’t care about me.”
He said that countless times. However, there came a time when he didn’t say it. The last time Dr. Fred Craddock saw his father was in a Veteran’s hospital. He was down to 74 pounds. They had taken out his throat and he was badly burned by radiation therapy. The story goes on to read . . .
“Around the room flowers were everywhere – on the table, in the windows and even on the floor. There were potted plants, cut flowers, and every sort of arrangement. They even had flowers on the table that you swing out over your bed on which you put food. That was just as well since he couldn’t eat anyway. Little cards were sprinkled in all the flowers and every one of them read something like this: Men’s Bible class, Women’s Fellowship, Children’s Division, Youth Fellowship. Every organization you could imagine in the church had sent flowers along with stacks of cards from persons in the church.
“Craddock’s father saw him looking at the cards. Unable to speak, he picked up a pencil and wrote on the side of a Kleenex box a line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet: ‘In this harsh world, draw your breath in pain to tell my story.’
“Fred Craddock read it and asked his father: ‘Dad, what is your story?’ The speechless old man took the Kleenex box back and wrote a confession: ‘I was wrong! I was wrong!’”
We’re looking at the Parable of the Growing Seed. We’re looking at the direction the Christ gives His people in a dying world. We’re looking at how . . .
“THE WORD PRODUCES BY ITSELF”
I know that sermons talking about everybody being a witness to Christ are not the most popular. Maybe it’s that uncertain fear that unbelieving family and friends will disown us. Well, maybe they will. Or maybe it’s the excuse that we just can’t do it. And the question is “Why?” Or, maybe, some just figure – or, at least, hope – that someone else will pick up the slack. Not necessarily. If we don’t do it, who will?
After all, there are a lot of desperate people out there in every conceivable kind of pain. God doesn’t ask us to be their critics. Actually, Jesus said it best of all: “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” (Jn. 3:17) And this: “…whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (Jn. 3:18) The world is already judged, whether it knows it or not. The world is already condemned by its sin.
And listen, God does not appoint us to be keepers of nit-picking issues. He asks us – His church – you and me – to scatter seed. That’s all. Scatter. The growing is strictly His business. To put the seed – the Word – out there, trusting that it will do what God wants it to do.
And so our text: “(Jesus) said: ‘The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.’”
The point of the parable is rather simple. The seed is the Word of God. We are to consider the power of the Word. The Word produces by itself. God does with the Word as He pleases – not as we envision. The writer of Hebrews says, “The Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword…”
Peter writes, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” (1 Pet. 1:23) It’s the Word…period. As the parable says, “Produces by itself” without the absurd innovations of humans…the seed sprouts and grows, though (the man) knows not how.
And the “man” in the parable is equally simple to figure out. The man is just a man, in one sense. And in another sense the man is you and I. We are the ones who scatter the Gospel seeds – the glorious news of sin forgiven and the promise of eternal life through faith in Christ.
As we consider the parable and it’s meaning for us you can hear those familiar words in the background: “…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16)
So how honest should we be with ourselves this morning? Maybe the seed some of us scatter is the seed of constant complaint and criticism. Or maybe the seed of gossip and slander. Or maybe the seed of discontent. I’ll tell you what, friend, no matter what you think or how you see it, you and I are scattering seed – of some sort.
Eugenia Price said, “If Christ lives in us, controlling our personalities, we will leave glorious marks on the lives we touch. Not because of our lovely characters, but because of his.”
Of all the stands we take – of the pleas we make – there is none more important and urgent than scattering the seed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – the Good News of forgiveness of all sin. The Good News that God does love us and has given us the gift of eternal life. There are many Mr. Craddock’s in the world just waiting to hear this glorious news. And always remember: The Word Produces By Itself so scatter seed.
Amen.

Bulletin Announcements – July 19, 2015

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July 19, 2015

THOUGHTS ON STEWARDSHIP:  Ephesians 2:13: “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” What all of mankind’s efforts, works, and scheming could not do, the blood of Christ did: we have peace with God, we are brought near to the Father. This life-giving sacrifice of Christ for us sets the pattern for the sacrifices we are called to make for others within our vocations in home, church, and society.

THE ADULT BIBLE CLASS, meeting in the church basement at 9:15 a.m. will hear from our District President, Reverend Mark Miller. He will share with us District happenings and take your questions. Please join us to find what is happening in your church.

TODAY IN SUNDAY SCHOOL:  This week students probe “The Case of the Old Bed: Jesus Heals at Bethesda.” Jesus is the One who brings healing, not only from sickness but from sin and death. Consider discussing, “How does God heal people today? How can you help someone who needs healing?”

TODAY: We welcome a new couple to Good Shepherd this morning. Jack & Ruth Gooding, longtime members of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Chenoa, are transferring in. They reside at 322 Fieldcrest Ct in Normal. Cell phone# is (309) 826-3381 and email: jack_gooding@outlook.com. They have four adult children and many grandchildren. Jack was at one time a professional musician. He retired in 1993 after 45 years with Illinois Power. Ruth retired in 1953 and was a stay-at-home mom. We are blessed to have them and please take a moment to welcome them.

TODAY is the deadline for items to be submitted for the AUGUST NEWSLETTER. Mandy Kluender is our Editor for the church newsletter and any announcements you want to be published in the Newsletter should be submitted to her at mgkluender@hotmail.com or you may call her at (309) 838-9868.

PASTOR’S SCHEDULE: Pastor will be out of the office on Tuesday, July 21st. Pastor and Karson are heading to the Bourbonnais area to meet with the LC-MS churches in the area to find a church home for Karson while away at college. He has to report for football on Friday, August 7th. (No tears yet – but there will be!)

BLOOD DRIVE: Good Shepherd’s Red Cross Blood Drive will be on Monday, September 28th. In order to be eligible (56 days between blood donations) for our drive please give by the end of this month. We look forward to seeing you and your veins in September.

MATERIAL AVAILABLE: There is material available for Quilters or Sewers in the Quilting Room. Please take as much as you would like. Deb & Bill Huber

PORTALS OF PRAYER: The July – September 2015 Portals of Prayer are available on the book rack located in the narthex. Pick up your free copy today!

FELLOWSHIP HOSTS: The sign-up for help with coffee/doughnuts is posted on the wall by the north stairwell. We need an individual/family to sign-up each week to pick up the donuts and make the coffee. If no one is signed up by Friday of each week, the order will be cancelled. We thank everybody who continues to help with this part of our church fellowship.

CAN YOU HELP?: The International House at Illinois State, where we serve a meal each year, is looking for host families for International Students when they first arrive this August. If you are interested please speak with Pastor Lueck who has the information. Also, Pastor or his family members can tell you about the experience if you have questions.

THE LUTHERAN HOUR: “Rescued” is the topic for next Sunday. The sermon text will be from 2 Peter 2:9-10. God’s love and forgiveness is to be welcomed, savored, enjoyed, and relished. Drink deeply of His grace! The speaker will be Reverend Ken Klaus. Hear this Sunday’s message on the Lutheran Hour on WGN (720) at 6:00 a.m.; WJWR (104.7 FM) and WJWR (90.3 FM) both on Sunday at 3:00 p.m. Also, if you can receive Lincoln, IL radio station WLLM (1370 AM) the program is broadcast two times on Sunday at 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Tune in! You can also listen to The Lutheran Hour on your personal computer at RealAudio, www.lhm.org.

PRAYER CHAIN: If you have a prayer request please submit them by email to Mary Anne Kirchner at makirchner@yahoo.com or you may phone a Prayer Request to Mary Anne; her home # is (309) 661-6522; her cell phone# is (309) 532-2582. The Prayer Request box is on the table in the narthex for any written requests.

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