Celebrating July 2017

Birthdays

7/4 Joann Nottingham

7/10 Bob Love

7/14 Nick Henson

7/22 Joann Hart

7/24 Katey Parry

7/25 Andrew Benjamin

7/25 Stephanie Schempp

7/27 David McEleney

Baptismal Birthdays

7/8 Isabella Kessler

7/11 Richard Ross

7/12 Keyyon Pleasant

7/13 Kathy Hitch

7/13 Summer Sheley

7/14 Bryan Reichert

7/16 Jennifer Cloyd

7/20 Ruth Gerike

7/21 Anna Holland

7/24 Finley Mosier

7/28 Eugene Fuller

7/31 Erin Dirks

 

Stewardship Corner July 2017

“I will bless you …, so that you will be a blessing” (Gen. 12:2).  The Lord blessed Abraham so that he would be a blessing.  How did He bless Abraham?  He promised that from His seed would come the Savior of the nations.  And Abraham believed that promise, trusted that the Lord would provide it just as He had promised.  Thus, everything Abraham did was colored by that promise.  He willingly gave of himself and his household in service to the Lord in view of that promise.

Our Father in heaven has richly blessed us.  Not only has He given us everything that we need to support this body and life, but He has also provided, that promised seed in His Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ.  He is the Savior of the nations.  He is the Redeemer of the world.  He is the one who has conquered sin, death, and the power of the devil by His death, resurrection, and ascension.

Just as we are richly blessed, we are also thereby freed to be a blessing.  Since God has endowed us with His gifts, we are set to endow others.  Thus, we give of the blessings we have received so that others may be blessed.  We do this in our homes, our communities, and our churches.  We press the blessings God has lavished upon us in service to those around us.  We use our time, our talents, and our treasures to be a blessing even as they have been a blessing to us.

The Lord blesses us.  And He enlists us to be a blessing to others.  So, whenever you put that envelope in the collection plate, when you set out to serve at the local food pantry, when you sit down to help your kids with homework, think of this: The Lord has blessed you, so that you will be a blessing.

Pastor’s Notes July 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Think of the soldier standing in the cold and snow of Valley Forge.  The men with their muskets in their bloody hands at Lexington and Concord.  They could not see then what we enjoy now, but they were fighting for it – freedom.

We have been blessed to be born into freedom.  We are blessed by those who sacrificed to give it to us.  We are not in North Korea or Cuba or any other totalitarian government where the state would be our god, and we would own nothing.  Leaving the country or even traveling within her borders is not safe.

Freedom is not free.  Freedom is responsibility.  The Apostle Paul writes, “For freedom Christ has set us free…For you were called to freedom, brothers.  Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Gal. 5:1a, 13)  When Paul wrote these words, he was living under a bloody despot, Nero, the Caesar who had become the Roman god.  Paul flew no banner but Christ.  He knew, as we know, that Christ has granted us the ultimate freedom.  Freedom from sin, death, and the power of the devil.  Christ gives us strength and reminds us of His presence even as certain freedoms get taken away or limited.  We pray for those misguided souls who want to scream and yell the loudest in our country.  They need the reminder that having freedom means responsibility.  They can only do these things because they live in a place where it is allowed.

Paul gave the warning that we all need to heed in these days of being in everyone’s face and the rampant public discord.  “But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” (Gal. 5:15)

In Christ,

Pastor

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

Celebrating May 2017

Birthdays

5/3 Anna Holland
5/5 Lorene Backsmeier
5/5 Cory Fortney
5/8 Lucas Piper
5/11 Lindsay Orr
5/12 Kerry Warren
5/16 Benjamin Holland
5/19 Nicki Cloyd
5/19 Terry Trost
5/21 Pat McQuown
5/24 Jack Gooding
5/25 Doris Hoffman
5/26 Joyce Schneider
5/27 Keyyon Pleasant

Baptismal Birthdays

5/1 Catherine Cloyd
5/1 Carly Benjamin
5/1 Marvin Lester
5/3 Cooper Mosier
5/5 Marlene Hitch
5/6 Halie Sheley
5/15 Daryle Schempp
5/18 Drew Kemp
5/22 Lorene Backsmeier
5/22 Marvin Huth
5/26 Stephen Parry
5/29 Lucas Piper

Stewardship Corner May 2017

“It is more blessed to give than to receive,” said St. Paul, quoting our Lord (Acts 20:35).  How can this be?

Jesus and His disciples withdrew to a mountain by the shore of the Sea of Galilee.  The crowds followed them, for the Lord had just showered upon them the gift of His teaching, the gift of His Word.  But the day was waning; the sun was setting, and it was getting late.  Looking upon the crowds, Jesus had compassion on them and asked, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat” (John 6:5)?  Philip said that two hundred denarii (a day’s wages for two hundred men) could not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.

But Andrew, Peter’s brother, brought a young boy forward, who had five barley loaves and two small fish. “But,” Andrew asked, “what are they for so many” (John 6:9).  Jesus replied, “Have the people sit down” (John 6:10).

Then Jesus, the Son of God, gave them a second gift, a gift from what only He could give—a gift from above.  He took the bread and the fish, gave thanks, blessed them, and distributed them to the crowd.  Then came the miracle.  As these five loaves and two fish were given out, they multiplied.  He fed the hungry crowd until they were all full.  And twelve baskets full were left over.

But Jesus was not the only one who gave that day.  There is one person who also gave from what he had.  It was the boy with the five loaves and the two fish.  All the others, including the boy, received the gift of a miraculous feast.  And they would look back on it with wonder.  But the boy, when he would look back on it, would look back and remember not just what he received.  He would look back with wonder and delight when the Son of God made his gift into something miraculous.  For it is more blessed to give than to receive.

This our Lord does for each of us.  He presses our gifts, no matter how big or how small, into His service and works wonders with them.  He provides through what we give: water for baptism, bread and wine for the Lord’s Supper, a man called and sent for the preaching of the Gospel and Absolution.  He provides a building in which we can gather as His children, lights so that we might not gather in darkness.  He provides funds for the care of the poor and struggling, for missionaries who preach and teach beyond our borders. He makes Christians, disciples of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in our midst by bringing them to faith and nurturing them in that faith.  He takes our gifts and turns them into something miraculous.

Indeed, it is more blessed to give than to receive.  Thus we give.  We give of what we have. And the Lord works His wonders.

Pastor’s Notes May 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We were blessed once again to have worshipped in the Lent/Easter season.  To see the dichotomy between those who wanted Jesus killed and those who believed in Him as the Messiah.  Think what it must have been like for the people of that time.  Who could they trust?  Could they share the faith with a neighbor or a friend?  The disciples didn’t even know who they could trust as they denied and hid.

The news of our world has been filled with the death of Christians practicing their faith.  In many parts of the world – whom do you trust?  I read of a missionary on the border of China who also did mission work in North Korea.  Pastor Han ended up being murdered and the crime has not been solved or probably not even looked in to.

Mrs. Han was also part of her husband’s ministry.  She had visited North Korea in 1998 and had brought people rice that they had shared the Gospel with.  But in a culture where people generally don’t help each other without personal incentive, her act of good will was viewed with suspicion.  And in North Korea, suspicion leads to arrest.  She was arrested.  Held in solitary confinement for 60 days and continually interrogated.  After 72 days she was finally released to Chinese authorities.

The Han’s continued their mission work with Pastor Han at the front line of their North Korean mission work.  Some North Koreans that had been led to the faith were executed, arrested and never heard from again, or are still in prison.

On April 16, 2016 Pastor Han received a phone call and left around 1:30 p.m.  By 7:00 p.m. that evening they had found his body.  He was found in his car in a remote area near the North Korean border.  He had been stabbed in the heart and an artery in his neck had been slashed – a method commonly used by North Korean assassins.

Our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world need our prayers.  Where atheistic communism exists, where the Muslim faith dominates, where apathy and selfish motives enslave, and where people turn from the Bible to their humanistic philosophies.  Then let us not forget what a blessing and privilege we have to worship in freedom.  Will it always be this way?  Signs point to the fact that it won’t.  Who will we trust?  Our trust is in the Lord.  The Lord who rose again so we might live.  The Lord who overcame suffering and death with His suffering and death.  The Lord who loves us into eternity.

As you worship never take it for granted.  The Lord gives us these opportunities in freedom.  What are you doing with them?

In Christ,

Pastor

Pastor’s Notes April 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

Do you ever get distracted?  Some of you are thinking, when don’t I Pastor!  This morning I made my hot chocolate like I always do and I went to sit down and I hadn’t prepared my bowl of cereal.  What distracted me?  I was thinking about an editorial that I want to write to The Pantagraph.  Don’t be looking for it in the near future.  I won’t be writing it for a year and half from now.  God still has some planning to do.  Yes, we get distracted.  I write myself notes.  Some of you text yourself.  In our human nature our minds can wander even in a 9-minute sermon!

 

What about Jesus?  Did He ever get distracted?  If He did, it would be hard to find it in the words of Scripture.  He was the guy awake on the boat in the storm and in the Garden of Gethsemane.  The crowds or the Pharisees or the teachers of the Law didn’t distract Him.  Pontius Pilate and Herod and Caiaphas couldn’t deter Him from His eternal mission.  We would say He had a laser focus.  Death.  Dying.  The Cross.  The Resurrection.  Forgiveness and Eternal Life.  Before that the beatings and the mocking’s and the crazy justice system.  None of this could get Him to detour from the path the Father sent Him on.

 

Why?  Because of His love for you and me – the crown of His creation.  When He was tempted to take His eyes off the cross, He saw you.  He saw me.  He loved the whole world.  Nothing, not even the power of the devil, could get Him to waver from what He needed to accomplish.  The next time you get distracted, maybe even while reading this, thank your Savior that He didn’t.

 

In Christ, Pastor

 

Lenten – Holy Week Schedule

 

April 5                          Lenten Meal – 5:30 p.m.

Lenten Worship – 7:00 p.m.

 

April 9                          Palm Sunday Worship – Holy Communion in both Worship

Services – Sunday School and Adult Bible Class at 9:15 a.m.

 

April 13                        Maundy Thursday Worship w/Holy Communion – 7:00 p.m.

 

April14                         Tre Ore (Brief Service of the Word) – Noon

Tenebrae (Service of Darkness) w/Holy Communion – 7:00pm

 

April 16                        Easter Worship w/Holy Communion – 7:00 a.m.

Easter Breakfast served after the early worship until 9:00 a.m.

Sunday School and Adult Bible Class – 9:15 a.m.

Easter Worship w/Holy Communion – 10:30 a.m.