Stewardship Corner June 2017

One of the best known and beloved psalms is Psalm 23, the Shepherd Psalm.  There we learn that the Lord is our Shepherd.  And since He is our Shepherd, we will not want.  We will not suffer want because the Lord, our Shepherd, will lead us to green pastures and beside still waters.  In other words, the Lord, our Shepherd, will provide for all that we need in both body and soul.

Yet, we live as though this is not the case.  We live as though we actually suffer from want, that the Lord, our Shepherd, will not provide for all that we need.  And thus, we live as though the Lord is not our Shepherd.  And that means that we live as though we are not the Lord’s sheep.

How do we do this?  We do it when we put anything else before Him and His provision for us.  When we think that going to work is more important than receiving the gifts that He won for us on the cross, a violation of the First and Third Commandments.  We do it when we fail to give generously of the first fruits of what the Lord has provided for us because we think we don’t know what the future will bring, even though He has promised that He will lead us to green pastures and still waters.  We do it when we think that the Lord is only in the business of helping those who will help themselves, we do this because we have a mind set on earthly, temporal things and not on heavenly, eternal things.  We do this because we have stopped hearing the call of our Shepherd, which comes through His Word.

The Word of God is how our Shepherd calls us to himself.  Through that Word, the Holy Spirit gathers and enlightens us with His gifts.  Through that Word, we are kept holy and nourished in the one true faith, the faith that follows our Shepherd wherever He leads us.  He promises to lead you to your true home, to the land flowing with milk and honey, to a better country, not of this world, but a heavenly one.

And so, here’s the good news:  The Lord is your Shepherd still, even, and especially, for wayward sheep.  For Jesus seeks and saves those who are lost.  He finds the lost sheep and carries them back to the fold.  He is the Shepherd that lays down his life for His sheep.  The Lord is your Shepherd.  Let us live then as His sheep.

Celebrating June 2017

Birthdays

Paula Hardy 6/2
Jordan Doddek 6/3
Oliver Mosier 6/5
Brad Gerike 6/6
Diane Benjamin 6/7
Deborah Huber 6/7
Eric Orr 6/7
Mike Field 6/8
Kent Warren 6/11
Penny Culp 6/13
Tracee Martin 6/13
William McNeely 6/14
Chris Patterson 6/14
Richard Ross 6/14
Ruth Gerike 6/15
Marlene Hitch 6/16
Isabella Kessler 6/18
Erin Dirks 6/21
Eugene Fuller 6/23
Steve Davis 6/29
Martha Prescher 6/29
Bryan Reichert 6/30

Baptismal Birthdays

Craig Culp 6/1
Dorothy Herberts 6/1
Doris Hoffman 6/1
Harriet Campbell 6/2
Morris Dale 6/3
Brad Gerike 6/7
Diane Benjamin 6/19
Gerald Semelka 6/20
Terry Trost 6/28

Pastor’s Notes June 2017

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Throughout the centuries, the relation between Islam and Christianity has been a challenge.  Within a hundred years after the prophet’s death, Muslim armies had conquered Spain and penetrated into France, only to be stopped at the battle of Tours in 732.  We think also of the Crusades to win the Holy Land back from the Muslims.  In Martin Luther’s day the Turkish Muslims menaced Europe from the east.  In the original German of the hymn “Lord, Keep Us Steadfast In Thy Word,” the Reformer prayed, “put a stop to the murder by the pope and Turk.”

Today the struggle continues.  It is not to be won with weapons or money.  Rather, victory is in the Word of God and prayer, as Christians are urged to “contend for the faith” (Jude 3) and “take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17).  We as Christians should also know something about Islam in order to refute some of their beliefs.  We might even read the Qur’an so that we better understand their teachings.

The Qur’an urges Mohammad himself, “ask forgiveness of thy sin” (Sura 40:55).  Yet nowhere does it mention sin in connection with Jesus.  The Qur’an offers a fallible prophet who lies buried in Arabia.  The Bible presents a sinless Savior who has conquered death.  The Bible presents an eternal home that is given to us wholly through the merits of Christ Jesus.  As the thirteenth century scholar Riccoldo da Montecroce wrote in his refutation of the Qur’an (Confutatio Alcorani, which Luther translated into German and which is now available in English), “The fact is:  Christ lives, Mohammad is dead.”  A former Muslim from Iraq put it this way, “Allah calls on Muslims to sacrifice their sons so that they can go to paradise; God sacrificed His Son so that we can go to heaven.”

In Christ,

Pastor

Sermon for May 28, 2017: “Christian Suffering.”

 

 

May 28, 2017                                                                                     Text:  1 Peter 4:16-17

 

Dear Friends in Christ,

 

Is there anyone here who doesn’t ask the question why there is suffering in our world?  Why does the Christian suffer?  When we see problem after problem pile on our Christian friends and loved ones or even upon us we begin to wonder what God is thinking.  What is the plan?

We can tell our kids all the reasons in the world why they need a shot but it doesn’t make the pain in their face any easier.  But who do they look to for comfort?  Dad and mom.  Comfort comes not in knowing the reason why.  Comfort comes in knowing the comforter.

We have that Comforter when we suffer.  He helps us to glorify His name even as we deal with the rough patches in front of us.  This morning we examine . .

“CHRISTIAN SUFFERING”

The text begins, “If anyone suffers as a Christian…” (v. 16a)  We make this distinction.  All people suffer in this fallen, sinful world.  This is suffering because of our Christ connection.  Our text focuses on this type.

Do we suffer because of our Christ connection?  Yes, in some ways it is getting worse each day.  But no, when I think of the martyrs around the world.  We still have our freedom to worship and come together to hear God’s Word.  We are not meeting in secret.  But maybe just maybe in our school or workplace we have to downplay our Christianity.  Dan Harman wrote it correctly, “So long as Jesus was misunderstood He was followed by the crowd.  When they came to really understand Him, they crucified Him.”  After all, why did He die on the cross?  It wasn’t bad timing or a bunch of nuts with a vendetta.  He died for our awful, God-hating sin.

Without the knowledge of sin there is no understanding of Jesus.  Without the constant reminder we grow complacent and self-righteous.  The Christian claims the Christ of Calvary, the empty tomb, and all that means.

So Peter speaks specifically to the Christians.  “Let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.” (v. 16b)  The Lord said in Matthew we are blessed when people insult and persecute and speak falsely against us because of our Christian faith.

Dr. G. Campbell Morgan wrote, “The world hates Christian people, that is, if it sees Christ in them.  The measure in which the world agrees with us and says we are really a fine type of Christian…is the measure in which we are unlike Christ.”  Doesn’t that disturb you?  The Lord isn’t asking us to be offensive or to go out and harass people – He simply calls us to take a stand and make a commitment.

Peter tells us not to be ashamed but glorify God that we have that name.  The love of the world is great and overpowering – the desire to maintain intimate friendships with the pagan so alluring – that the willingness to take the heat for Jesus causes shame.  If that’s the case, then prepare yourselves for the next thought from the Apostle.

“For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (v. 17)

Judgment begins with the family of God?  You bet.  Right now…here, on earth.  The church’s suffering is not blind chance – suffering as a Christian pulls us ever upward and upward focuses our attention on the things above.  As the Proverb says, “If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and sinner!” (Prov. 11:31)

We are going to have trials and tribulations.  But our Lord is not going to leave us alone.  He comforts our valleys with his eternal Word.  In our despair, our baptism reminds us we are children of God.  In our weakness when we want to chuck it all away because we think we can’t handle anymore, he comes in bread and wine, body and blood and provides strength for the days ahead.  This is why we gather on a weekly basis.  We need these means of grace because they let us face a world that is at each other’s throats.  A populace that wants to do everything politically correct except stand with the Christian soul.  One of the beautiful things the Lord provides is life experience.  Any amount of time on earth and you been through the valley, taken on the coaster ride or been in the depths.  But you have come out on the other side because of your faith in a Savior that loves you and will never, ever leave you.

Recently when Andy Benjamin was in the hospital in Peoria I made my way there on I-74 westbound.  As I approached East Peoria a truck in the eastbound lanes was on fire.  Traffic was starting to back up.  I went and saw Andy and left about two hours later thinking the lanes had been cleared.  As I approached the accident, the police were directing cars off of the interstate into East Peoria.

Now at this point I could have been completely lost.  But over the years our boys had ballgames in East Peoria and Morton.  I knew I could get on highway 150 to Morton and safely back on the interstate.  This is what I did and I was back in Bloomington in a reasonable amount of time.  This was the Lord’s doing.  He gave me a previous life experience, which allowed me to get through the challenge.

Our lives are like that.  We meet our Christian suffering because we know there is a God-ordained route that will lead us home.  An eternal home where there will be no more suffering or pain.  We experience a splash of suffering across our all too often colorful, worldly lives because it draws us back to the Cross of Jesus.  Reminds us that that we are Heaven’s people.  God’s own even in suffering.

Amen.

 

Elder, Usher, and Acolyte Schedules June 2017

Elder and Usher Schedule

Date
8:00
Elder
10:30
June 4Gene Fuller, Jeff Piper, Lucas Piper, Richard RossMike FieldBrian Dirks, Theron Noth
June 11Daryle Schempp, Joshua ParryBarry HamlinGreg McNeely, Karson Lueck, Mike Huth
June 18Gerald Semelka, Mike Field, Paul Gerike, Steve ParryCurt KesslerBrian Dirks, Bud Kessler
June 25Ben Holland, Nathan KluenderCraig CulpGreg McNeely, Mike Huth, Theron Noth

Acolyte Schedule

Date
8:00 AM
10:30 AM
June 4Clayton PiperPastor/Elder
June 11Pastor/ElderJustin McNeely
June 18Garett SheleyPastor/Elder
June 25
Pastor/ElderLucas Piper

Bulletin Announcements

May 28, 2017

NEED A RIDE? If you are unable to drive to church, we have an option that is available.  Please speak with Pastor who has the details.  Thank you.

OUR SUNDAY SCHOOL meets at 9:15 a.m. in the Choir Room which is located on the 2nd level (the west side).

THE ADULT BIBLE CLASS meets in the basement at 9:15 a.m.  In conjunction with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we are studying about that time period with “The Word Endures: Lessons From the Lives of Powerful Politicians”.

THOUGHTS ON STEWARDSHIP:  1 Peter 5:7:  “…casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.”  We have a Father in heaven – and He really cares for us and loves us.  That is the basis of generosity, because such knowledge spells the end of anxiety and worry, which is where tight-fisted greed comes from.

FROM THE OFFICE:  The church office will be closed tomorrow, May 29th, in observance of Memorial Day.  Lord’s blessings on your day!

NEXT SUNDAY, JUNE 4TH, IS PENTECOST SUNDAY and we will celebrate Holy Communion in both worship services.

NEW CHURCH SIGN:  In celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation and with inspiration from Martin Luther, Good Shepherd will be “posting” a new church sign on the south side near the lower parking lot.  Parts will be interchangeable and be used for Outreach to our community.  Congregation involvement will include creative ideas for the signage and gifts toward the purchase.  Today you have an opportunity to take home a jar and fill it with coinage and bills.  The end of our collection will be Reformation Sunday, October 29, 2017.  We were already blessed with a sizeable gift so we are looking for $5,000.00 to complete the project.  May God bless!

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.

“MARTIN LUTHER – THE IDEA THAT CHANGED THE WORLD”:  We now have a link on the church’s website: (www.goodshepherdblm.org) to purchase tickets for the movie, “Martin Luther – The Idea That Changed the World”.  It will be shown at the Wehrenberg Cinema on Wednesday, June 7th beginning at 6:30 p.m.  Tickets are $9.00 and can only be purchased online.  The deadline to order is TOMORROW, Monday, May 29th.

TODAY is the Hog Roast at Camp CILCA!  Come for lunch between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.  The beach will be open in the afternoon for swimming and boating.  Pulled-pork sandwiches, baked beans, coleslaw, and desserts will be served. The cost for adults is $8.00 and children ages 4-12 is $5.00.  See you there!

THE LUTHERAN HOUR:  “Filled, to Overflow!” is the topic for next Sunday.  The sermon text will be from John 7:37-39.  Isolation, distraction, and pride can lead to spiritual numbness, but Jesus fills us with life that overflows to bless others.  Reverend Dr. Gregory Seltz is the speaker.  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 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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Sermon for May 21, 2017: “Where Is Your Unknown God Hiding?”

May 21, 2017 Text: Acts 17:16-31

Dear Friends in Christ,

In 4th and 5th century B.C. the Greek city of Athens was considered to be the greatest city in the world. When Paul arrived it wasn’t as prosperous but was still known for its culture and education. Today people still visit the city to see its ruins, which stand as a testimony to its greatness.
“While Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.” (v. 16) Paul sees through the blurriness of culture and education and gets a clearer picture of what is happening in this city. They had statues, and temples and shrines and altars throughout the public places to various gods. They had heathen festivals and all their temples to the false gods had priests.
Do we see today in our society what Paul saw then? How many gods are worshipped in and around us? More importantly and to get more personal, how many gods are getting in front of the one, true God for us? Let’s take a peek into your life by asking the question . . .
“WHERE IS YOUR UNKNOWN GOD HIDING?”
The example of Paul raises some questions. How do we look at society? Is our eyesight blurred by our technology and our abundance and our wealth? These are gifts from God but they should never take away from the reality of our sin and the need for salvation. The Athenians were prosperous and they relished in the latest ideas – as long as the latest ideas conformed to their wishes. They connected these two – prosperity and the latest ideas – to their false gods.
What did Paul do? “He reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there.” (v. 17) He didn’t ignore the issues. He was compelled to speak of their sin and to tell them the good news of Jesus and His resurrection.
What do we do with the false gods of our day? Be passive. After all, doesn’t everyone have a right to believe what they want? We walk along with head in cloud and then notice one day, “hey, our world seems to have changed.” Really? Where have you been? To be a Christian we must confront the lie with the truth. The truth flows from our lips, strengthened through the means of grace and the Holy Spirit.
What about you and I? Where are our unknown gods hiding? The god of money. The god of fame. The god of technology. The god of sports. The god of family. The god of work. The god of confrontation. The god of passivity. The god of time. The god of good times – “ain’t we lucky we got ‘em – good times!” Maybe, just maybe our unknown gods aren’t hiding at all. When I read that list did they jump out of the closet or were they comfortably a part of your mindset?
To the Athenians they knew nothing about their unknown god – no name, power, or work. This altar was only one among hundreds and did not draw worshippers away from other gods and altars. The pagans had to build temples and altars to their gods to “live in.” The God of creation transcends earth and any structure on it.
Do the gods we struggle with just live in our mind or are they working to overtake our heart? Can faith falter when we worship at an altar of our own making? Sure, it can. Here we have a whole city struggling. Don’t you think the devil can work on you?
Paul tells the citizens of Athens and us. “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.” (v. 30) Like Paul in our text, God works through His Word to help us see our need to let go of our gods. All of the gods that I listed above – money, fame, technology, sports, family, work, confrontation, passivity, time and even good times have a timeframe where they must end. The God of life and the father of our Lord Jesus Christ has no time restrictions. He is Alpha and Omega. Beginning and End. He is eternal and so will we be as we put our trust in our Savior from sin. He obliterates our gods with His cross. He promises a permanent temple of glory with His resurrection. Stop hiding and believe!
John F. MacArthur Jr. rightly comments, “Note the tact with which Paul confronts them. Having noticed the altar to an unknown god, Paul used that to make the very powerful point that their religion was unable to give them certain knowledge of any god, much less the true God. He gently implied that the existence of such an altar was plain admission that they did not know the truth about god at all. He clearly regarded the inscription on the altar as their own testimony of spiritual ignorance.”
This is how we go about our business today. Gently and with tact, but with truth on our side. They may call us “babblers” like they did Paul, but don’t let the personal attacks get in the way of the argument. Scripture is powerful. A Christian with the Holy Spirit on their side can win against the philosophers of our day. You can speak in the marketplace. You know the struggle but you have overcome. Share that. Share the love and forgiveness of this known God. We have the assurance because Christ has been raised from the dead.
Hello? You are hiding no more. Thanks be to the one true God!
Amen.

Bulletin Announcements

May 2, 2017

NEED A RIDE? If you are unable to drive to church, we have an option that is available.  Please speak with Pastor who has the details.  Thank you.

OUR SUNDAY SCHOOL meets at 9:15 a.m. in the Choir Room which is located on the 2nd level (the west side).

THE ADULT BIBLE CLASS meets in the basement at 9:15 a.m.  In conjunction with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we are studying about that time period with “The Word Endures: Lessons From the Lives of Powerful Politicians”.

THOUGHTS ON STEWARDSHIP:  John 14:15:  “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”  Jesus is clear: our obedience to His Word comes from our love for Him.  But where does that love come from?  Jesus tells us that as well, “She was forgiven much, so she loved much” (Luke 7:47).  Christ shows us His love and gives us the forgiveness of our sins – and this causes love to well up in us, which in turn causes us to keep the commandments of Jesus.  For after all, the summary of the Law is “Love.”

NEW CHURCH SIGN:  In celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation and with inspiration from Martin Luther, Good Shepherd will be “posting” a new church sign on the south side near the lower parking lot.  Parts will be interchangeable and be used for Outreach to our community.  Congregation involvement will include creative ideas for the signage and gifts toward the purchase.  Today you have an opportunity to take home a jar and fill it with coinage and bills.  The end of our collection will be Reformation Sunday, October 29, 2017.  We were already blessed with a sizeable gift so we are looking for $5,000.00 to complete the project.  May God bless!

TODAY is the deadline for items to be submitted for the JUNE 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.

CHURCH PICTORIAL DIRECTORY photos are this Tuesday and Wednesday from 1-9:00 p.m.  Please arrive 10 minutes before your scheduled time to get checked in.  Sign-up is still occurring this morning and will be open through Monday night.  If you have any questions, please speak with Pastor.

THE ASCENSION OF OUR LORD:  This coming Thursday, May 25th at 7:00 p.m. will be our Ascension Worship Service with Holy Communion.

“MARTIN LUTHER – THE IDEA THAT CHANGED THE WORLD”:  We now have a link on the church’s website: (www.goodshepherdblm.org) to purchase tickets for the movie, “Martin Luther – The Idea That Changed the World”.  It will be shown at the Wehrenberg Cinema on Wednesday, June 7th beginning at 6:30 p.m.  Tickets are $9.00 and can only be purchased online.  The deadline to order is Monday, May 29th.

THE CAMP CILCA HOG ROAST IS NEXT WEEKEND:  Come for a whole weekend of camping, games, swimming, and campfire devotions.  Sunday, May 28th will feature Reverend Dr. David Peter preaching at the 10:30 a.m. worship service and pulled-pork lunch served from 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.  The cost for adults is $8.00; children (4-12) are $5.00.  Visit: cilca.org or call (217) 487-7497 for more information.

THE LUTHERAN HOUR:  “The Best of Things in the Worst of Times” is the topic for next Sunday.  The sermon text will be from Philippians 1:27.  As another generation comes along that knows not the Lord or what He has done, God enables His people to do the best of things in the worst of times.  Reverend Dr. Gregory Seltz is the speaker.  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 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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