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

Date
8:30
Elder
10:30
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

Acolyte

Date
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

Birthdays

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,

Pastor

Elder, Usher, and Acolyte Schedules for October 2015

Elders and Ushers

Date
8:30
Elder
10:30
Oct 4Charles Nottingham, Craig Culp, Jeff Piper, Joshua ParryBarry HamlinGreg McNeely,
Nick Henson
Oct 11Ben Holland, Mike FieldJohn HardyBud Kessler, Curt Kessler, Theron Noth
Oct 18Daryle Schempp, Gene Fuller, Richard Ross, Steve ParryCraig CulpMike Huth,
Holden Lueck
Oct 25Gerald Semelka, John Hardy, Nathan Kluender, Paul GerikeCurt KesslerBrian Dirks, Marvin Huth, Ryan Kleiboeker

Acolytes

Date
8:00 AM
10:30 AM
Oct 4Lucas PiperPastor/Elder
Oct 11Pastor/ElderWill Dowell
Oct 18Anna HollandPastor/Elder
Oct 25Garett SheleyJustin McNeely

Stewardship Corner October 2015

The reason we come to Church on Sunday morning, as opposed to Sunday afternoon or Monday evening, is because it is the first day of the week.  The first thing you do this week, before you do anything else, is come to Church.  You begin your week with the Word of God, Prayer, and the Holy Communion.  You give the first seventh, off the top, of your time to the Lord.  He blesses that time.  In that time, He forgives your sins, cleanses, and purifies you.  He then sends you out into the world, into the week, as His in all your days and hours and life.

This is also the reason we pray before we eat.  We want to establish that food is a gift from God and that He provides for us through it.  Before we eat, we pray. This also blesses the food and makes it holy food because you are holy people.

Nonetheless, we have a tendency to compartmentalize our lives, to separate the spiritual and the secular, to put on different masks at work, with our friends, or at home.  This is a fantasy.  We are who we are wherever we are.  We are the baptized and we never go anywhere alone. Everything we do is spiritual — including our use of time and food and money.

Now, you have a Christian duty to support the Church, to give of your time, money, and abilities so that the Ministry would be conducted among us and that the Gospel would be preached beyond us.  How much you are to give is not dictated in the New Testament, unless it is everything.  But how you are to give is clear.  It is sacrificial, generous, first fruits, and proportional.  You are to give a percentage offering—not an amount, but a percentage.

In the Old Testament ten percent was the norm.  It’s hard to imagine that St. Paul was thinking that “being generous” would be anything less than this.  But whatever it is, the point is to set your offerings in comparison to your total income. That is what makes it a sacrifice, a spiritual gift.  How much of what the Lord provides do you return?

Next, it is to be first-fruits giving. It comes off the top.  You write the check, or pay your offering, before you pay any of your bills.  It is your first obligation and sets your priorities.  You don’t pay your other bills and then give the leftovers to the Church.  You make your offering first, in accordance with whatever promised percentage you made.  This is not only first fruits, it is also sacrificial.

And you can always give more.  Start with your commitment, with your percentage-based, first-fruits weekly offering, then as you have leftovers, give them out as it pleases you.  But start with the Biblical model or percentage, first fruits.

That is how money is to be used and given by Christians.  It is to be pressed into the service of the Gospel.  It is not actually that hard.  Start where you are and work toward greater faithfulness.  Start now.  Just take what you give now and figure out the percentage of your income and commit to keep that pledge for the year.  Over time you can increase that commitment, that percentage.  As your income fluctuates, going up or down, so will your offering amount.  Set the percentage, then take that out of your check first each week.  Make it a priority.  It is the most important thing you do with your money. It is a spiritual exercise.

It will feel a little scary at first.  Just do it.  Take the risk.  Set the money aside for the Lord and trust that He will provide.  And over time you will find that you really can give more than 1% or even 10%, and even do so without regret.  This kind of Biblical, disciplined, first fruit giving takes the unease out of it.  It creates cheerful givers because when they drop the offering in the plate, they are already committed.  They decided beforehand what to give.  They don’t think about it. They are glad to fulfill their promise and to be in God’s house where He receives them according to grace.

Celebrating October 2015

Birthdays

10/1 Thomas Anderson
10/2 E.F. Bud Barnett
10/10 Stacia Dowell
10/10 Fern Noth
10/11 Barry Hamlin
10/11 Jessica Isaac
10/12 Payton Biddle
10/12 John Hardy
10/15 Travis Henson
10/15 Maria Kirchner
10/17 Jacquelyn Semelka
10/21 Shane Miller
10/22 Sierra Parker
10/23 Audrey Gronert
10/23 Chloe Hitch
10/24 Teresa Casselman
10/25 Abby Biddle
10/28 Cheryl Reichert

Baptismal Birthdays

10/2 Eli McNeely
10/2 William McNeely
10/3 Pastor Lueck
10/4 Brian Dirks
10/9 Cortney Brewer
10/9 William Huber
10/9 Andrea Reichert
10/13 Ryne Brewer
10/20 Cleo Korte
10/27 Steve Davis

Pastor’s Notes – October 2015

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Have you heard about this idea within a portion of the scientific community that in 30 years we will become computers?  Lev Grossman calls this our “cyborganic destiny.”  Do we really want to become computers?  What if someone sticks a pop-tart in our hard drive?  Or spills sticky soda on our keyboard?

Another scientist says, “You can transfer your mind into a machine.”  As a machine you can wake up every day in a cold, uncaring world.  Life goes on indefinitely and we become “intergalactic godlings.”  Do you want to live forever as a tin can wired with the same components as your Toyota?

As Christians we know the promise of eternal life is our future.  The Apostle Paul writes, “We are buried with Christ by baptism into death, that, like as He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”  “Newness of life” is not the same old thing day after day like a machine.

In the science world the geography is limited.  They are bound to an earthly kingdom and the prospect of your computer turning you on as a washing machine.  Followers of Christ know from the Lord’s Prayer “Thy Kingdom Come.”  We live in God’s kingdom of power and grace and we await the kingdom of glory.

It was the flesh and blood Jesus who won this salvation for us.  He was not a robotic figure leading a scientific revolution.  His love and grace that came through His care for you and me is prevalent.  He came for all with the gift of salvation so we could live forever, not continue to exist as a toaster!

In Christ,

Pastor

September Stewardship Corner

What is most striking about the rich man and Lazarus is not their differences but their similarities (Luke 16:19–31). Both men die because both men are sinners, and the wages of sin is death. Both men are beggars, for all men are beggars. But, here is where the most striking difference between them takes shape. Lazarus knows it and lives it. The rich man, however, does not.

Lazarus was a beggar in thought, word, and deed. But, he was God’s beggar. He relied upon God for all that he had and all that he was. He looked to God for all things, in good times and in bad. He went to God in all trouble, sought Him for all help, and trusted in His Word and promises to provide for all that he needed for this life and the next. This is, after all, what his name means: God is my help.

The rich man, too, was a beggar. But he didn’t realize it. His status, his wealth, his clothing and his food all came from God’s gracious hand. But the rich man didn’t recognize it. He thought he had earned it, and that he deserved it. And thus, his trust is not in God, who by His Word and promise gives it, but rather in himself, in what he has done, and in what he has.

And so it is that when death comes to Lazarus and the rich man—as it does for all of us because we have all sinned, and death is no respecter of persons—Lazarus is carried by the holy angels to Abraham’s side; while the rich man is in torment in hell. The rich man forgot God. He despised being a beggar, and thus, despised Lazarus. He despised God and His Word, and refused to have mercy on those whom God placed at his doorstep.

Now, the tables were turned. What the rich man didn’t realize or recognize on earth, he now lived out in torment in hell. He knew what it was to beg. But he still didn’t see himself as a beggar of God. He still didn’t look to His Father in heaven for all good and help in every time of need. He instead appealed to His status as a descendant of Abraham, calling out Father Abraham and not “Abba, Father” (Gal 4:6; Rom 8:15).

We are all beggars. We brought nothing into this world and we will take nothing out of it (1 Tim 6:7). Everything we have and everything we are comes from God’s fatherly divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in us, for He gives everything to us by grace. Thus, we are to love one another and be generous to one another in thought, word, and deed. For you cannot love God and hate your brother. And hating your brother means not to forgive as you’ve been forgiven, to give as you’ve been given to, to love as you’ve been loved.

 We are all beggars. This is true. But we, like Lazarus, are God’s beggars. He not only gives us what we need for this body and life—food and clothes, house and home, husband, wife, and children—but He also blesses us with His Word and Spirit, so that we will enter into paradise in the life to come. He claims us as His own by water and the Word in Holy Baptism. In this washing, rich in grace, He gives to us what His Son, Jesus Christ, won for us on His cross: forgiveness of sins. And where there is the forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation. He puts His own name on us, thereby giving to us the right of children, the right to call Him Father and the right to His inheritance as His beloved sons. He gives us a seat at His table, in His house, in His kingdom, which has no end.

Yes, indeed, we are beggars. This is true. But we are beggars of the God who loves us, the God who created us from His love, the God who redeemed us by His love in the sending of His Son to die so that we would live and have life to the full. This is His promise. It’s what Moses and the prophets longed to see and of what they spoke. They see it now, not in a mirror dimly, but face to face, just as you shall on the last day.

And as God’s beggars, we have mercy on those who would be beggars of us, who rely upon our giving, even as we rely upon the gracious giving of God. We give to our family, our society, our church. He gives; we receive. Thanks be to God. We give; they receive. Thanks be to God. We count it all a joy to give as He has given to us.

Elder, Usher, and Acolyte Schedules for September 2015

Elder and Usher Schedule

Date
8:30
Elder
10:30
Sep 6Ben Holland, Jeff Piper, Joshua Parry, Mike FieldCurt KesslerGreg McNeely,
Theron Noth
Sep 13Gene Fuller, Richard RossJohn HardyBud Kessler, Curt Kessler, Mike Huth
Sep 20Daryle Schempp, Nathan Kluender, Paul Gerike,
Steve Parry
Mike FieldBryan Reichert,
Holden Lueck
Sep 27Gerald Semelka, John HardyNathan KluenderBrian Dirks, Marvin Huth, Ryan Kleiboeker

Acolyte Schedule

Date
8:00 AM
10:30 AM
Sep 6Summer SheleyPastor/Elder
Sep 13Pastor/ElderWilliam McNeely
Sep 20Katey ParryPastor/Elder
Sep 27Pastor/ElderJessica Isaac