Stewardship Corner November 2015

“In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard” (Gen 4:2). Why did the Lord not have regard for Cain and his offering, but did regard Abel and his offering?  Was it because Abel’s offering was better intrinsically than Cain’s?  No.  The Book of Hebrews tells us: “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts” (Heb 11:4). The thing that distinguished Abel’s offering from that of Cain’s is faith.  By faith, Abel offered a more acceptable offering.

Faith and giving are inseparable.  They are two sides of the same coin. It is faith in the promises of God that leads us to give.  By faith we trust that God will do what He says. By faith, we receive everything God gives as a gift from His divine mercy and goodness.  For what do we have that we have not received (1 Cor 4:7)? Nothing.  Everything we have comes from the Lord.  By faith we give to others because God has first given to us, and by faith we trust that He will continue to provide for us all that we need for this body and life.  And when by faith we give, God accepts our offerings and commends us as righteous.  For by faith we are accounted righteous before God on account of Christ.  Giving is a spiritual issue.

But there is a flip side to this two-sided coin: Cain didn’t give an offering to God by faith.  His offering did not come from faith but from someplace else.  And since it didn’t originate with faith in God and His promises, it was not regarded by God. And he was not accounted righteous.  This is a warning to us. Pay attention to your faith and your offerings, and from where they come.

From where do your offerings come?  Like all good works, offerings acceptable in God’s sight flow from faith in Christ.  They are given in response to the gifts God has given to us, especially the gift of forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ.  And since they are given by faith, they will be the target of Satan’s attacks to ruin the church, do damage to the gospel of Christ, and to weaken your faith in Him.  For sin is crouching at our doors, and the temptation to sin in giving is great because of the fallen world and our sinful flesh.  But Jesus is greater than our hearts.  Jesus has overcome the world.  And by faith, so have we.  By faith, we rule over them.

Elder, Usher, and Acolyte Schedules November 2015

Elder and Usher

Nov 1Charles Nottingham, Craig Culp, Jeff Piper, Joshua ParryPaul GerikeGreg McNeely,
Nick Henson
Nov 8Ben Holland, Daryle SchemppCurt KesslerBud Kessler, Theron Noth
Nov 15Gene Fuller, Mike Field, Richard Ross, Steve ParryNathan KluenderBryan Reichert,
Holden Lueck
Nov 22Gerald Semelka,
Nathan Kluender
John HardyBrian Dirks, Mike Huth, Ryan Kleiboeker
Nov 25
(Thanksgiving Eve)
7:00 PMJohn HardyJeff Piper, Joshua Parry, Paul Gerike
Nov 29Ben Holland, Charles Nottingham, Craig Culp,
John Hardy
Barry HamlinGreg McNeely, Marvin Huth, Nick Henson


8:00 AM
10:30 AM
Nov 1Chloe HitchPastor/Elder
Nov 8Pastor/ElderCruz Kleiboeker
Nov 15J.T. PiperPastor/Elder
Nov 22Pastor/ElderChristian Dowell
Nov 25Thanksgiving Eve 7PMJessica Isaac
Nov 29Summer SheleyWilliam McNeely

Celebrating November 2015


11/2 Caleb Evans
11/2 Ryan Kleiboeker
11/4 Sheri Piper
11/4 Shirley Potter
11/6 Patricia Hanner
11/6 Jeanette McNeely
11/7 Phoenix Kleiboeker
11/9 Holden Lueck
11/15 Curtis Kessler, Sr
11/17 Cannon Kleiboeker
11/19 Theron Noth
11/23 Joshua Parry
11/24 Gordon Schroeder
11/29 Aaron Scott

Baptismal Birthdays

11/1 Jacquelyn Semelka
11/5 Stacia Dowell
11/7 Janet Evans
11/14 Cheryl Reichert
11/16 Tammy Brewer
11/18 Gwendolyn Hardy
11/19 Ryan Kleiboeker
11/20 Thomas Anderson
11/25 Jason Scott
11/26 Penny Culp
11/28 Holden Lueck
11/28 Joshua Parry

Pastor’s Notes November 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.  You are serving the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Colossians 3:17)

This missive is being composed on the day after we celebrated “Pastor Appreciation Day.”  This is always a spiritual lift and I am appreciative of everything done.  One of the things that touch my heart and soul are the personal notes in the cards I receive.  Your kind and encouraging words are a great support for myself and my family in this ministry.  Each year a couple of these are saved and put into a notebook.  Periodically I will get the notebook out, read previous notes and be moved by the gracious hand of our Lord.

I recently did this one evening while sitting at my desk at home.  It was a note from several years ago that said they appreciated that God’s Word is brought “every” Sunday.  That warmed my heart.  In my vocation, the Lord has led me to know that God’s people deserve the best effort “every” time the Word is preached.  I have preached to as few as 4 (Circuit Pastor’s Conference).  I have also spoken in front of 14,000 (Synodical Convocation).  In between I have served a small, rural church; a large, suburban church; and one in between those two here at Good Shepherd.  You never know who is listening that day so through the Holy Spirit, I strive to do my best.

One of the blessings in over 24 years of ministry is to have never missed a Sunday of work.  I remember in Texas being up all night but the Lord allowed me to perform my duties on Sunday morning.  I think I slept the rest of the day!  A lot of my thinking came as a result of my athletic background.  The Lord gave me the talent and the ability and through the Holy Spirit it was my responsibility to use it to the fullest.  Whether at a nursing home or a hospital bedside, you never know who is listening; the Lord wants my best because He gives the best.

What is your vocation?  Are you encouraged by our Lord to see that you are working for Him no matter where He has placed you?  People are watching and listening and the Lord is using your witness.  Our work is the same in the eyes of the Lord no matter what we are doing.  May He lead you in honest and hard work knowing that your labor for the Lord is not in vain.  In all things we serve Christ our Lord and Savior.

You are all a blessing and I thank God for you!

In Christ,


Good Shepherd Election — Identified Needs

GSLC Voters Drive 11-15-2015

Fellow Members,

Below is a listing of the needs of the church, as identified by the Nominating Committee. If you or another member of the church may be interested in filling one of these positions, please contact myself or one of the other members of the nominating committee.

Curt Kessler: (309)826-7171 or
Mary Anne Kirchner:
Carin Henson:

Summary of Nominees Needed for 2016 Positions

President _____________________________________

Vice President _____________________________________

Secretary _____________________________________

Assistant Treasurer (to move to Treasurer in 2017) _____________________________________

Financial Secretary _____________________________________

Elders – 4 Nominees Needed ______________________________________

Trustees – 2 Nominees Needed ______________________________________

Education – 5 __________________________________________

Evangelism – 5 __________________________________________

Stewardship – 5 __________________________________________

Nominating Committee – 5 __________________________________________

Bulletin Announcements – October 25, 2015

†  Bulletin Announcements  †

October 25, 2015

THOUGHTS ON STEWARDSHIP:  Romans 3:20: “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” The Law of God is good – it’s just that we sinners cannot save ourselves by the Law. Salvation is a free gift of God because they only way we could ever be saved. The Law shows us God’s holiness and thus our own sin. And now in Christ we can look at the Law and see it in a new light as well: as a guide for how to live a godly life in thanksgiving to God for His gracious forgiveness in Christ.

TODAY we welcome Rob Hilbert from Lutheran Bible Translators. Mr. Hilbert will speak briefly after each worship service and conduct class for all ages in the basement during our Sunday School hour. We will have a door Offering for Rob and his family. The Hilbert’s were called back from serving in Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak. Rob, wife, Mical and children are now preparing to serve in Botswana. Lord’s blessings on their work!

DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME ENDS NEXT SUNDAY: In order to ensure your timely arrival for worship please “fall back” when setting your clock before going off to la-la land next Saturday evening.

FOOD COLLECTION: Our Food Collection for the Home Sweet Home Mission will continue now through Sunday, November 8th. Members of our congregation will deliver the food and serve a meal at the Mission on Saturday, November 14th.

THREADS OF GRACE PRAYER SHAWL MINISTRY – INITIAL MEETING:   We invite all who are interested in helping with our new Prayer Shawl Ministry to attend an initial meeting in the Conference Room at the church this coming Thursday, October 29th, at 7:00 p.m. Ann Hammond and Laura Kessler will be explaining the mission of the group; how you may help; and if anyone desires instruction in knitting or crocheting. Both Ann and Laura are willing to teach. If you are currently working on a project, please bring your work with you to the meeting and knit or crochet as we talk! At the meeting we will explain where the donation bins will be placed, as well as where the Prayer Shawls are going. We will present a flyer (designed by Isabella Kessler) that will be placed with each Prayer Shawl. We hope you will join us!

VOTER’S MEETING: Good Shepherd’s annual Voter’s Meeting (Budget, Elections, etc.) will take place after the 10:30 worship service on Sunday, November 15th. We will have a meal with the church providing meat and drink; members will bring other items that tickle their palate.

DEAR CHURCH FAMILY: As everyone is aware, Laura Kessler’s health issues continue with mounting medical costs. The Kessler family is requesting your help as you are able. A Go-Fund-Me Site has been setup for those who wish to assist and this can be done anonymously. The site is: with the goals and specifics detailed.  Thank you.     The Kessler Family

CHOIR PRACTICE HAS BEGUN: Choir is meeting every Wednesday from 7-8:00 p.m. and we always need more voices. If you would like to learn more about choir, contact Steve Parry at or (309) 533-5200. Come make a joyful noise until the Lord!

YOU ARE INVITED to the 2015 Fall Bazaar at Christ Lutheran Church, 311 N Hershey Rd., in Normal on Saturday, November 7th from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Join us for food, fun, fellowship, and fantastic finds!

THE LUTHERAN HOUR: “Who Do You Think You Are?” is the topic for next Sunday. The sermon text will be from Isaiah 51:4-6. Don’t just look up, down, or around-look to Jesus Christ for life and salvation. 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,

PRAYER CHAIN: If you have a prayer request please submit them by email to Mary Anne Kirchner at 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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“IS THE MISSION DIFFICULT OR IMPOSSIBLE?” — October 18, 2015, Text: Mark 10:23-31

October 18, 2015 Text: Mark 10:23-31

Dear Friends in Christ,

Most of you will remember the TV program Mission: Impossible, and you young bucks in the congregation have become acquainted with it through the recent Tom Cruise movies. The TV program revolved around an agent originally named Dan Briggs and later replaced by Jim Phelps, receiving dangerous government assignments. The tagline you may remember at the beginning of each show was, “Your mission, Mr. Phelps, should you decide to accept it, is…” After listening to the rest of the message, the end of the tape would say, “This tape will self-destruct in five seconds.” The assignments, I suppose, seemed impossible. They were certainly difficult. By the end of the show the team of agents solved the cases and had done the “impossible.” Mission: Very Difficult just doesn’t have the same zing.
In our Gospel lesson Jesus talks about how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God. It is like a Mission: Impossible assignment. Not really impossible, but extremely difficult. In another scenario he uses the word impossible. So which one is it?
The Holy Spirit begins our text, “Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ (v. 23) This amazes the disciples. They are assuming that wealth is a sign of God’s blessing and therefore man’s relationship with God. But riches can get in the way of our devotion to God. Riches can hinder our trust in God’s provision. Many of the rich and famous in our world live apart from God.
But then it appears to get worse as Jesus continues his teaching. “Jesus said to them again, ‘Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.’ And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, ‘Then who can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man it is impossible.’” (vs. 24b-27a) A man cannot put a camel through the eye of a needle. It’s hard enough to get a little piece of thread in there! Riches are a hindrance to the kingdom of God. It is impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom. But not just the rich. It is impossible for anyone to enter the kingdom of heaven on their own.
It is not just riches that get in the way of heaven. Many of God’s greatest gifts can become idols – parents, children, and spouses. How many people forego church because of their family members? How many leave a church where God’s Word is properly taught to join a church that errs in some doctrine because they want their kids to have a “better” youth group?
The truth is that no one can save himself. It is impossible. There are no exceptions. No matter what race, no matter how smart, no matter how rich, no matter how poor, no matter what age, no matter what gender. Man cannot do it even with a little help from God. It isn’t that man does his part and God does His. What mans brings to the table is the impossible. Man merely brings sin.
Man needs the God of the possible to do the impossible. “’Then who can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.’” (vs. 26b-27)
Do you believe this? Can you fathom the impossible? Jesus took an impossible assignment and paid the price that was impossible for you to pay. He went to Calvary’s cross for my sin, your sin, and the sin of the whole world. In Jesus, God died for you. God can turn stony hearts of unbelief into faithful Christians. He can make a camel go through the eye of a needle. Your salvation and your conversion is all God’s doing. God doing the impossible.
Even though He has redeemed us and turned our hearts of stone into believing hearts, until we enter fully into the kingdom of God, the journey will be rough. Jesus calls us to our own Mission: Difficult as He calls us to pick up our cross and daily follow Him.
Contrary to modern day health, wealth, and prosperity preachers, your best life now might entail the cross. It might involve persecution for your faith. Our text says in the age to come we will have eternal life. In the meantime, we might lose family members over our faith. We are going to deal with temptations of wealth and security. We may be called to the public square to declare Jesus as Lord.
But hang on to this in the innermost parts of your being, no matter how difficult it might get the Mission: Impossible is Mission: Accomplished because Jesus has completed His mission for us. We are assured the victory in Christ because He did the Mission: Impossible.
Oh, by the way, this promise of God will not self-destruct in five seconds.