Stewardship Corner January 2018

It’s a new year. It’s a time when we take stock of the year past in order to improve the year to come. It’s a time when we sit down to plan and implement what we want to accomplish and even change. Part of that is planning our stewardship for the coming year.

Often we find this difficult and daunting and even joyless. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it is really quite simple and full of joy. So here are some tips to make that planning less stressful. You begin by answering these three questions: Who are you? To whom do I give? And how much?

So, who are you? The Table of Duties in the Small Catechism informs us. Are you a hearer of God’s Word? Are you a citizen of society? Are you a member of a family? Stewardship covers these three estates: church, society, family. We don’t particularly struggle to give to society or family. Our struggles, our difficulties and our questions arise in giving to the church.

So, what is our duty as members of the church with regard to giving? The Table of Duties, again, gives us a guide. If you are a hearer, a member of the church who receives instruction, St. Paul taught: “Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor” (Gal. 6:6). This means the local congregation is primary.

Your pastor is the one called to preach the Gospel to you and administer the Lord’s blessed sacraments to you. Your congregation is the place where those things happen. Thus, when God calls us to give to the church, He has the local congregation in mind. For “the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:14).

How much do we give to the local congregation? Our only instructions are these: to give regularly (1 Cor. 6:1–2), proportionally (1 Cor. 16:1–2; 2 Cor. 8:12), and generously (2 Cor. 8:20) of our first fruits (Gen. 4:4; Prov. 3:9; Lev. 27:30) with a spirit of eagerness (2 Cor. 9:2), earnestness (2 Cor. 8:7), cheerfulness (2 Cor. 9:7), and love (2 Cor. 8:23).

In other words, giving to the church is not to be an afterthought, given after everything else is spent. In this way, it is deliberate. We give regularly – weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly – keeping in mind our own strengths, weaknesses, and limitations. We set it aside beforehand – before anything else is spent.

From those first fruits, we set aside a proportionate and generous amount. Ten percent was the standard for the Israelites. This was a command for the ancient Israelites. We can give as much as we want, but ask yourself: do we really want to be less generous than was commanded of the Israelites? Is the job of the New Testament Church bigger or smaller than the job given to Israel?

And how are we to give it? We give it with eagerness and earnestness. We give it cheerfully and with love, not out of compulsion. For through the preaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments, God has made us His children, forgiven us all our sins, given us grace upon grace, promised us life everlasting with Him in His kingdom, and filled us with His own Spirit, the Holy Spirit. This makes giving a joy, as Jesus said, “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

It’s that easy. And it is joyful. For in stewardship, our gracious and giving Lord invites us to take part in the work that He accomplishes here on earth, providing for the ongoing preaching of the gospel as well as those who are in need. Taking part in that makes all our work holy – work that is done in service to the Lord as priestly members of His kingdom.

Celebrating January 2018

Birthdays

Carin Henson                  Jan  1

Nicholas Hitch                 Jan  2

Pat Orr                             Jan  3

Bud Kessler                     Jan  4

Mary McEleney               Jan  6

Cathy Cloyd                     Jan  9

Bob Hanner                     Jan  9

Nancy Thomas                Jan 19

Greg McNeely                 Jan 20

Beth Mosier                     Jan 20

Cooper Mosier                 Jan 27

Linda Dirks                      Jan 28

Jill Holland                       Jan 31

Baptismal Birthdays

Bud Barnett                     Jan  1

Charles Nottingham        Jan  1

Shirley Potter                   Jan  1

Chloe Hitch                      Jan  2

Jackie Kwasny                Jan 11

Jessica Isaac                  Jan 12

Bud Kessler                     Jan 21

Stewardship Corner December 2017

Christmas is coming.  It is a joyous time of feasting.  The Church feasts upon the Word of God in sermon, song, and Sacrament.

We hear the proclamation of the message of the angels: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you Good News of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10–11).

We mingle our voices with theirs as we sing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased” (Luke 2:14)!

We receive the proclaimed Savior, Christ the Lord, not wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in manger, but wrapped in bread and wine placed into our mouths for the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.

We feast in great joy indeed because of this great blessing from our Lord and God.

God’s people in ancient Israel also feasted with great joy.  The Lord showered His abundant blessing on His people.  And He commanded them to feast upon it (Deut. 16).  The people were to go to the place appointed, where the Lord would make His name dwell, and give offerings, each man as he was able, according to the blessing of the Lord that He had given them (Deut. 16:10, 15, 17).

And there the Lord would bless them with joy as they feasted upon what the Lord had provided.  They ate of the choice parts of their offerings.  They enjoyed the company of all the people of God as they together heard His promises of blessing, sang of His bountiful goodness, and partook of what He gave.

We feast on the Word who became flesh to dwell among us, not just during Christmas, but throughout all the year.

We feast not just on the salvation He has wrought for us in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, but we feast also on all the temporal blessings that God gives out of His fatherly divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in us.

We enjoy the rich bounty that God provides, not only in Word and Sacrament, but also in house and home, property and income, family and friends.

Let us then, as did our brothers in the faith from ancient Israel, give as we are able, according to the blessing of the Lord our God that He has given us.

Let us, like them, give generously of the first fruits of our income, which He gives, so that all may know and enjoy the salvation He gives and the joy we have in the Savior born in the city of David, who is Christ the Lord.

Celebrating December 2017

Birthdays

Matthew Culp                  Dec  3

Jacob Piper                     Dec  3

Eli McNeely                     Dec  6

Kaitlin Culp                      Dec  7

Brian Hitch                       Dec  7

Kimberly King                  Dec 10

Jason Williamson            Dec 11

Bill Nelson                       Dec 13

Johana Kirchner              Dec 14

Katie Kleiboeker              Dec 15

Karson Lueck                  Dec 17

Mo Dale                           Dec 19

Matthew Holland             Dec 19

Heidi Doddek                   Dec 20

Devin Kemp-Golden        Dec 24

Tanner Hitch                    Dec 28

Audrie King                      Dec 30

Baptismal Birthdays

Karen Dale                      Dec  1

Theron Noth                    Dec  1

Caleb Evans                    Dec  4

Curt Kessler                    Dec  5

Abby Biddle                     Dec 16

Gordon Schroeder           Dec 18

Jeanette McNeely           Dec 20

Payton Biddle                  Dec 23

Katie Kleiboeker              Dec 23

Jacob Piper                     Dec 23

John Campbell               Dec 25

Maria Kirchner                 Dec 28

Heidi Doddek                   Dec 29

Karson Lueck                  Dec 29

Pastor’s Notes December 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am always telling all of us not to miss the signs that God sends into our lives.  Recently God sent a sign about what you might ask – the sign project at church.

Through the years we have noticed the cars in the lower lot, the walkers on the Constitution Trail and the many others who traverse the grounds of our church.  Thinking a sign with messages would be a good outreach to Jesus and His grace, we went about accomplishing it.  Through everyone’s help we collected enough money to proceed with the sign.  Part of it will be permanent and the other part will have rotating messages.  This is where the sign of the Lord comes in.

In order to give an example to the board and the sign company the Holy Spirit led me to a message over a year ago.  It was presented to both entities and the sign company when designing the sign used that message.  The providence of the Lord was leading the way because when the sign company set the parameters for the sign they said each line should be 40 characters – this includes the letters, spaces and punctuation.  The original message when it came from the company and was shown in the mock-up of the sign came back with 41 characters on one line and exactly 40 on the other!  Take away the comma from line one and they each had 40 characters, the exact number needed for the sign.

As happened when we built this church, the Lord gave us many signs that we were doing his will and this is what the church should do and the building we should proceed with.  (Ask any long-time member and they can share one or two).  The same thing is happening with our new church sign.  The Lord is letting us know that He will bless this outreach idea.  It is His grace and love and mercy that will be shared with our neighbors in a creative way through our signage.

As the long-time song says, “Sign, sign, everywhere a sign.”  Don’t miss the Lord’s – He will bless as you do.

And as we head into Advent/Christmas here’s another reminder.  “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign.  Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)  See you in worship sign-seekers!

In Christ,

Pastor

Stewardship Corner November 2017

Our Father in heaven has claimed us as His own.  By the shedding of His Son’s blood, by the His death for our sins and His resurrection for our justification, God the Father has received us back into His family.  By water combined with His Word, promise, and name, the Holy Spirit has taken up residence in us.  We belong to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  He is in us, and we are in Him.  And being in Him, all things are ours. In Him, we are richly and abundantly blessed.

Our true treasure and wealth is that we belong to the most holy Trinity and everything that is His belongs also to us: righteousness, peace, eternal life.  Even our temporal treasures are gifts from His fatherly divine goodness and mercy.

We receive our treasures from Him, and thus, as (good stewards of His varied grace,) (1 Peter 4:10) we manage them in such a way that they may be returned to Him.  We bring them to Him, hallowed through prayers of thanksgiving and God’s holy Word, as an offering.

Thus, all our possessions, as gifts from God, are also offerings to Him, from which we eat to nourish our bodies, share with our family, neighbors, and fellow Christians, with the poor and even our enemies, as holy things given by the holy God.  His temporal gifts are blessings to and for us, and bring blessing upon us even as they are pressed into His service for His kingdom and the souls that receive them.

Thus we place all that we have into God’s hands, and He never fails to remember us and pours out the fullness of His promises upon us.  We give thanks for all that He has done, is doing, and will continue to do.  We give thanks by not taking for ourselves, but giving to all even as our heavenly Father has given to us.

As we prepare for the celebrations of Thanksgiving, may we all give thanks continually for all that we are and all that we have because of God’s providential care.  And may we be all the more diligent in bringing everything that we have received from God to Him, so that He may bless it and employ it for the good of all — even for us. “ For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance” (Matthew 13:12).

Celebrating November 2017

Birthdays

Karen Dale             Nov 1
Caleb Evans           Nov 2
Ryan Kleiboeker    Nov 2
Sheri Piper             Nov 4
Shirley Potter         Nov 4
Patricia Hanner      Nov 6
Jeanette McNeely  Nov 6
Phoenix Kleiboeker Nov 7
Denyce Berg           Nov 8
Holden Lueck         Nov 9
Curt Kessler            Nov 15
Ruth Gooding        Nov 17
Cannon Kleiboeker Nov 17
Theron Noth           Nov 18
Joshua Parry            Nov 23
Gordon Schroeder  Nov 24

Baptismal Birthdays

Jacquelyn Semelka Nov 1
Janet Evans             Nov 7
Bob Love                Nov 14
Cheryl Reichert       Nov 14
Ryan Kleiboeker     Nov 19
Thomas Anderson Nov 20
Penny Culp            Nov 26
Holden Lueck        Nov 28
Joshua Parry          Nov 28

Pastor’s Notes November 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Because it is so difficult in parts of the world to find clean drinking water, an organization called Water Is Life developed a wonderful resource called “The Drinkable Book.”  The paper in the book is coated in silver nanoparticles that filter out almost 99.9 percent of harmful bacteria.  Each tear-out page can be used and reused to filter up to 100 liters of water at the cost of only four pennies per page.

The Bible is also an unusually “drinkable” Book.  In John chapter 4 we have the story of the woman at the well.  She needed much more than just water to quench her spiritual thirst.  Because of the circumstances in her life she was desperate to know about “the living water” that Jesus was talking about.

Jesus said to her, “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.  The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)

The Lord gave us living water in our Baptism.  We need the “drinkable” Book as we face the circumstances of our life.  This “drinkable” Book points to God’s Son as the sole source of “living water.”  Those called and washed in the water through the Holy Spirit will experience “a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Lord, help us discard the things that leave us empty and thirsting and exchange them for the blessings of the living water you offer.

In Christ,
Pastor

Celebrating October 2017

Birthdays

10/1 Thomas Anderson
10/2 Bud Barnett
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 Jackie Semelka
10/19 Cindy Sheley
10/21 Shane Miller
10/23 Audrey Gronert
10/23 Chloe Hitch
10/24 Teresa Casselman
10/24 Helen Jensen
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
10/5 David Marlow
10/9 Bill Huber
10/20 Cleo Korte
10/27 Steve Davis
10/30 Ben Holland

Pastor’s Notes October 2017

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

After many years hearing and talking about the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we have now arrived at the month.  Lutheran churches around the world and other Christian denominations will celebrate this turning point in the history of the Lord’s Church.

This month of October 2017 is a very busy one for Good Shepherd and I would like to let you know of the many happenings at our church and within the circuit.

Sunday, Oct. 1 – LWML Sunday.  We worship together and thank God for this mission society within our LCMS.

Sunday, Oct. 22 – Mission Festival Sunday.  Rev. Charles Olander who is involved in prison ministry in our district will be here to preach and conduct Bible Class.  We will also have a meal after late service and learn more about our Central Illinois District’s Mission.

Sunday. Oct. 29 – Reformation Sunday.  Special Worship Service and our last collection for the new church sign we have planned on the south end of our property.

Sunday, Oct. 29, 3:00 p.m.  – Circuit-Wide Reformation 500 Festival Worship Service at Christ Lutheran Church, 311 N. Hershey Road.

We thank the Lord for these opportunities to gather and worship our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  We join in grace alone, faith alone, and scripture alone.  We are blessed to be part of this historic event and we look forward to your participation.

In Christ,

Pastor