Stewardship Corner February 2015

Stewardship Corner

Be merciful as your Father in heaven is merciful (Luke 6:36).  The word for mercy that Jesus uses here has a more concrete meaning than what we typically associate with mercy.  It means more than just being kind.  It means to be concerned about your neighbor’s state and well-being. Thus, Jesus taught that we are to care, to be concerned about our neighbor’s state and well-being even as our Father in heaven cares for and is concerned about our state and well-being.

How has our Father in heaven cared for our state?  How has He shown His concern for our well-being?  How has He showered this mercy upon us?

He gave of Himself.  He sent His only-begotten Son in human flesh, to become one of us—a man—and to suffer all that we suffer and to endure what we endure—a fallen world full of sinful people, temptation, the attacks of the devil, and death.  He took upon Himself what rightfully belongs to us—sin and death—in order that He could give to us what rightfully belongs to Him—righteousness, purity, eternal life, and victory over the temptation of Satan and this fallen world.  That is how He cared for our state.  That is how He was concerned for our well-being.  He entered into our state for the sake of our well-being, died in our place, rose for our justification; redeemed us to make all things new.  He entered our state so that by water and His Word we would be granted entrance into His state as children of our Father in heaven.  In other words, He had empathy toward us, which resulted in true sympathy.

Jesus, therefore, calls the church to empathy and sympathy for her neighbors.  “Be merciful even as your Father in heaven is merciful.”  He asks the church to give of herself, to enter into her neighbors’ state for their well-being.  And the church gives of herself the only thing in her that is worth giving.  As the Body of Christ, she gives Christ to her neighbors.  She gives out the same mercy that she has received.  She gives the mercy that the heavenly Father poured out upon her through the sending of His Son.  And she does it through the preaching of the forgiveness of sins in Word and Deed, in Word and Sacrament.  For this is how the church lives—in the forgiveness of sins received in the means of grace—and, therefore, this is what the church does.  What else can she do?

And since this is how the church lives and what the church does, this is likewise how Christians live and what Christians do.  That is why giving to the church is so important. It ensures that the proclamation of the forgiveness of sins in Word and Deed continues.  It ensures that our neighbors’ state and well-being is cared for and attended to.  It ensures that our neighbors have access to our heavenly Father’s mercy just as we have received it here in time for all eternity.

Therefore, I say, let us be merciful even as our Father in heaven is merciful.

Celebrating February 2015

Birthdays

Charles Nottingham        2/3

Betty Bier                         2/4

Emily Field                      2/4

Ryan Hitch                       2/6

Cruz Kleiboeker               2/7

Toni Lueck                      2/7

Jennifer Parry                  2/7

Marvin Lester                  2/8

Justin McNeely                2/9

Herbert Renken               2/10

Mollie Hitch                     2/12

Nicole Galante                 2/17

Cassandra Fortney          2/17

Sandy Williams               2/17

Luanne Huth                    2/23

Jamie Nord                      2/28

Lucas Schempp              2/28

Elizabeth Vize                  2/28

 

Baptismal Birthdays

Cruz Kleiboeker               2/3

Cannon Kleiboker            2/3

Brian Hitch                       2/8

Nicholas Hitch                 2/8

Gregory McNeely            2/9

Tanner Hitch                    2/9

Matthew Culp                  2/14

Beth Mosier                     2/16

Robert Hanner                 2/17

Georgia Boriack              2/18

Kaitlin Culp                      2/20

Travis Henson                 2/23

Pastor’s Notes February 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

What a blessing it is that we are going to celebrate 20 years as a chartered congregation of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.  My family and I have been here for fifteen years of those twenty, and we are thankful for the Lord leading us to Good Shepherd.

One thing you know about our church’s short history is how God’s hand has led this congregation.  He has showered us with His love, grace, mercy, hope, and faithfulness.  We are the blessed recipients of His eternal work.  In our small groups, Bible studies, chatting over coffee and doughnuts or even when we are all together most of us are aware of the Lord and what He has done to get us to this place.  It is almost an unlimited list.  The actions of our Lord help to confirm what a small group of dedicated members envisioned years ago.  The signs are there and continue to be there.  Thanks be to God!

I would like to hear from you on this front.  During the months leading up to the Anniversary, which we will celebrate in July, I would like to include in the prayers on Sunday morning certain things you are thankful for from Good Shepherd’s history.  Please contact me through my e-mail:  revbci@yahoo.com or on my cell (838-0306).  As I compile a list we will lift them to the Lord for all His gracious work.

Another request:  We would like to invite former members of the congregation to this Anniversary Celebration.  We will be working on this in the church office, but we would like your help as well.  If you know the address of a former member or members who have moved away, please let the church office know.  As they come to me, I try to write them down, but if we work together, we have a better chance of not overlooking anyone.

“Great Is Thy Faithfulness” is our theme for the Anniversary.  The Lord has been faithful, and the gift of Christ our Savior gives us an eternal hope.  An Anniversary ties together the past, the present, and the future.  The one constant in all three is the love of Christ for each one of us.  Let’s celebrate that.

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor

Elder/Usher Schedule February 2015

Date
8:30
Elder
10:30
Feb 1Charles Nottingham, Craig Culp, Joshua Parry, Paul GerikeMike FieldRyan Kleiboeker, Travis Henson
Feb 8Gerald Semelka, John HardyNathan KluenderGreg McNeely, Holden Lueck, Theron Noth
Feb 15Matthew Holland, Mike Field, Nathan Kluender, Steve DavisJohn HardyBud Kessler, Curt Kessler
Feb 18
Ash Wednesday
7PMJohn HardyBryan Reichert, Gene Fuller, Jeff Piper, Richard Ross
Feb 22Daryle Schempp, Steve ParryBarry HamlinBrian Dirks, Karson Lueck, Mike Huth
Feb 25
Lenten Mid Week
7PMBarry HamlinNo Ushers

Bulletin Announcements – January 25 2015

+ Bulletin Announcements +

January 25, 2015

THE ADULT BIBLE CLASS, led by Pastor Lueck, is studying “Luther’s Small Catechism”.  The class meets in the basement at 9:15 a.m.

TODAY IN SUNDAY SCHOOL students will learn the story “Jesus Calls Matthew.”  We sinners rejoice, for we, too, have been called from our own pigsty of sin to dine with Jesus around His table, and to be a friend of the friend of sinners.  Consider discussing, “How did Jesus call Matthew to be one of His followers?  How and why does Jesus call us to follow Him?”

THOUGHTS ON STEWARDSHIP:  Mark 1:14-15:  Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the Gospel of God,  15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel.”  To repent means to turn away from sins and our former way of thinking and turn toward belief in God and His Gospel of grace and mercy.  The whole Christian life is one of repentance and faith – where is God calling you to repent today?  How is He calling you to deeper faith?

“HERE AM I, SEND ME!”  Next Sunday we celebrate Lutheran Hour Ministries Sunday.  Come see what it is all about.

20th CHURCH ANNIVERSARY CONTAINERS:  If you have not yet picked up your 20th Church Anniversary Container, please do so following the worship services today.  They are located in the narthex.  As you know, the money is going for updates and repairs of the church organ.  We are collecting these funds until July, 2015.  Any questions please feel free to see or call Marvin Huth (309) 829-6897.

ANNUAL TRIP TO FORT WAYNE, IN:  John & Paula Hardy will be making their annual trip to Fort Wayne, IN.  Please bring to the church any slightly used adult and/or children’s clothing and any household items such as small appliances, kitchen items, etc. and place in the box located in the narthex.  We will be loading the items on Friday, January 30th and will be leaving for Fort Wayne on Saturday, January 31st.  Please see or call (309) 310-7917 John or Paula if you have any questions.  Thank you.

OFFERING ENVELOPES:  If you have not done so, please pick up your 2015 Offering Envelopes located on the table in the narthex.  Thank you.

THANK YOU:  The Kessler family would like to THANK EVERYONE who has come forward to bring us meals, prayers, visits, special gifts, and all the blessings that come with this.  We are all overwhelmed by the love shown to us by everyone in our church family.  The Sunday School ornament hangs right where Laura can see it and she cherishes the cards and other good wishes.  Laura remains under ‘house arrest’ as her white blood cell counts are very low, however, visitors are welcome!  She has begun perhaps her hardest chemo challenge which will last for 12 weeks before her surgery can be scheduled. Please continue to keep her in your prayers as she continues to fight back against cancer. God’s blessings to all of you.          Laura, Curt, Bud and Isa Kessler, Bud Barnett

 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.

THE LUTHERAN HOUR:  “Boring? Not Likely!” is the topic for next Sunday.  The sermon text will be from Mark 1:21-28.  Jesus’ enemies considered Him too dangerous to let live, but we have wrapped the Savior in a cloak of dullness.  The speaker will be Reverend Ken Klaus.  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 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.

 

“Caller ID” — Text Mark 1: 14-20 (1-25-15, 1030am)


January 25, 2015 Text: Mark 1:14-20

Dear Friends in Christ,

One of the helpful inventions of the 21st century has been “Caller ID.” It allows you to know who is calling. It has been especially helpful here in the church office as it cuts down on wasting time talking to companies who are selling or individuals who just want something. Who is calling makes a difference.
Today in our Gospel lesson the “who is calling” makes a difference as well. The voice of Jesus is the one identified. Will the men being called recognize it and how will they react? Come along as the call is made.
“CALLER ID”
Right away in our text the caller is identified. “After John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel.’” (vs. 14-15)
What is so important about “the kingdom of God is at hand?” What and where is this “kingdom of God?” All we can see is this lone new guy in town named Jesus who says to repent and believe the Gospel all because a kingdom is now at hand.
We don’t think much about kingdoms these days. But to the ears of first-century Palestine, “kingdoms” would have been a subject of great familiarity. Their minds may have focused on the oppressive, mighty rule of Rome – which they knew and experienced all too well. They may have thought of the Old Testament references to the “Sovereign Lord” – envisioning a master who sat high on a throne – personally ruling over his subjects. In either case, their minds would have been on a kingdom of power, a kingdom of might, not a kingdom like the one Jesus was bringing.
So this Jesus needs to build His kingdom. He begins along the Sea of Galilee with a couple of brothers named Andrew and Simon who were fishermen. The caller does not identify himself, we are told he says, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” If you are Andrew and Simon are you going to answer this call? Are you going to pick up?
There is always a response when Jesus calls. His presence – whether in the flesh in the first century, or by inspired Word in the twenty-first century – forces the issue. We may try to straddle the fence, but the edge is simply too narrow. Every encounter with Jesus is a force to be reckoned with. His Law crushes us – forcing us to admit we are sinners. His Gospel lifts us – freeing us to rejoice that we are forgiven sinners.
Jesus needed these men for the building of His kingdom – a future kingdom – a Kingdom called the Church. He would need foremen – pastors – to help build the Church. Jesus will train them for a far greater work than they have been doing, namely the work of winning men for the gospel and salvation.
“Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” They did not stand there and stew over the Caller ID. What should we do? Do we know this guy? They probably did as we can see from John chapter 1. But this call will affect the rest of their lives. Look at the trust as they follow Jesus for the schooling they were now to receive for a far greater calling. The key is the one making the call.
Look at this call and the one to James and John. Both came on a regular workday. Fishing, mending nets, going about their daily tasks. Your “ordinary” call to your daily tasks comes with the call to proclaim the Savior. Right now, right here, wherever Monday office or Tuesday lunch or Thursday errands find you. The caller has ID’d you. With the help of the Holy Spirit we say this in the meaning to the 3rd Article of the Apostle’s Creed, “He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.” The Callers ID was put on you at Baptism, marks you as you inwardly digest His Holy Scripture and lifts you up in the Lord’s sacred meal.
The Holy Spirit helps us to pick up when we are called. As with a phone call that identifies a person you have been waiting to hear from, we excitedly heed the call of our Savior. When He calls you to share the faith with a friend or family member. When He calls you to share the truth when someone you know struggles with sin. When He calls you to prepare and serve a meal to the destitute and homeless. When He calls you to serve your congregation as they have need of elders. When He calls you to shepherd your children in the ways of the Lord. This caller – the Savior Jesus Christ – wants you to answer. He doesn’t want you to check your phone and walk away.
The phone is ringing, will you pick up?
Amen.

“Included” — Ephesians 3: 1-12 (Epiphany Sunday, Jan. 2015)

Jan. 4, 2015 – Epiphany Text: Ephesians 3:1-12

Dear Friends in Christ,

One of our basic human instincts is to be included. To be in a group. God did not make Adam to remain alone. We even see fellowship within the Holy Trinity, as Moses reveals their conversation in Gen. 1:26: “Let us make man…” The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit speak, a holy conversation revealing unity and purpose by the three persons of the Godhead.
It’s Epiphany and it is God’s way that we are . . .
“INCLUDED”
As the biblical story of creation unfolds, the first two created let their ears hear the voice of a separatist god-wannabe, the devil. They remove themselves from God and the fellowship they had with one another. No longer a community, with God or the other, they followed only the selfish designs of the devil. Exclusion and division.
This is how it is when the rebellious ones try to make a community apart from God on their own terms. We curve in on ourselves. This churchless community is absolutely all about me, myself, and I.
You know what that’s like. You were there once, before Christ snatched you by His gracious grip and made you His own, a decisive one-sided divine work. Oh, you still tend to lean that way, away from concern for God and each other. The Lord, though, is rather persistent in his care for you. He won’t let you fade into self-exclusion and division, to be a community of one.
He sent the unifier, and his shed blood has brought the world back to the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit’s preaching. It would have been easy for this ragtag group of Ephesus, mostly Gentiles, non-Jews, to believe they were outside the circle of inclusion, that they were not God’s Church. Why, nearly their whole city was involved in the worship of Artemis, the goddess of fertility. The prostitution house was within two hundred yards of their famous library and their amphitheater, which seated 25,000. Now, that was a holy fellowship, they thought – intellect, sexual enticement, and group entertainment. But, in reality, it was only a community of perversion.
This, Paul says, is why he is sent. Yes, the Jews are God’s chosen people if they believe in the Father’s provision for their sin. But so are the Gentiles. Unholiness, whether it comes from the Jews or the Gentiles, did not advance one into God’s circle of inclusion, His Church.
You Gentiles, you members of this Church in Ephesus, and you sitting here today, do not overlook this fact. God sent a special call to man named Paul. His call papers were not filled out by a call committee but by God himself in person.
He did this so that you would know that the mystery revealed fully in Christ is that all people, all are included, all are Church members by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Kingdom inclusion is by grace, not by any kind of merit. Your unholiness is on Jesus and The Father accepts the sacrifice.
You need not doubt or despair Ephesus Lutheran Church members. You are not any less than Paul, the chief of sinners. Since inclusion is on God’s terms, that is, his Son’s replacement punishment and sin-payment for you, there is no doubt.
Even more so, you have access to the Father through Christ and your Baptism. You think all these powerful buildings around you and the pomp and power displayed by the Roman hierarchy here in town are greater than you? Just the reverse! God has declared you His, included, the Church, glorious and holy, united, one Body, Jew and Greek, male and female, all one with Him.
Through Jesus, and alongside Jesus, you petition the Father as Jesus does. You talk to God about your neighbor, and then you talk to your neighbor about your God, joining Jesus, your great High Priest, in holy work.
And what does this holy work look like? Many of you have commented on my long hair – good and bad and in fun. I have explained the story to a few of you but not to the whole congregation. I have not had a haircut for over four months. My barber had some major surgery about a month after my last haircut. He is a widower and we had my mom’s death and his wife’s death to talk about during haircuts. Anyway, we invited him and his son to the boy’s football games this fall. Then through the work of the Spirit they came to worship with us for a few weeks leading up to his surgery. Since he has gotten home, I have called him every other week and have been praying for him. He has had a rough time recovering. At Christmas I sent him a card with a picture of my long hair and encouraged him with the words that I needed him behind his barber chair in 2015. That has been my witness. That is just a small example of God’s holy work. I know many of you have your own work that the Holy Spirit is blessing.
Fear not, O Church, for God still sends those to do His work. As the Word is taught and preached, the broken and despairing are brought into his Church, no matter the race, color, or size of sin. And the Church stands.
Let all hell break loose. But do not fear. You are so secure in his wounds, drenched by His blood in baptismal splashing and drinking of the river of life at the rail, that you do not run. Rather, you, His Church, face westward into the wind and storm…snuggled right behind Him, dragging others with you.
Amen

“THERE’S SOMETHING IN THE WATER” — Mark 1: 4-11 (1-11-2015)

January 11, 2015 Text: Mark 1:4-11

Dear Friends in Christ,

“There’s something in the water.” If you grew up like I did in the 1970’s and 1980’s you remember a couple of movies where that line was important – “Jaws and Caddyshack.” One used it for fear. One used it for comedy. In each case that line help to make the scene.
We also have used this sentence. Maybe while drinking a glass of water or swimming in the water or bathing in the water. When we use it, it usually means something is in the water that we don’t want near us or on our person. Today is the day of Jesus’ Baptism and water is a big part of the plot line. But apart from the way we usually think, this water is a blessing. You see there is something more than just H2O. Praise God . . .
“THERE’S SOMETHING IN THE WATER”
Let’s get right to the “something in the water” from our text. Mark quotes John, “I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (v. 8) See there is something more in the water – the Holy Spirit. And more than that. We know from Matthew 28 that we are to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is present in Baptism. The Word of God with the water is what makes our Baptism valid. The Triune God is blessing us.
The text continues, “In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opening and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’” (vs. 9-11) What is in the water here? Jesus. The Son of God. And look at the familial relationship. The Father is pleased with the Son.
What about our family relationships? They can be a struggle, can’t they? Arguments over nothing. Words or actions punishing the ones we love. Fighting during Christmas gift opening. Letting others know they don’t please us and receiving that same putdown. Relationships that are chilly at best. Getting along just to keep peace in the family. Oh Satan does love to work on our hearts, doesn’t he?
James S. Hewett tells this story: “A woman got on an elevator in an office building. There was just one other person in the elevator, a handsome man. She pushed the button for her floor and casually looked over at the man and suddenly had one of those sudden recognition moments. Could it be? The man looked exactly like Robert Redford, the movie star. Her gaze was almost involuntarily riveted on him. Finally, she blurted out, ‘Are you the real Robert Redford?’ He smiled and said, ‘Only when I’m alone!’”
The real . . . you and me. Who are we when alone in family relationships? Are we the same person that shines in the pew this morning or do we fall short in our kindness, love, and patience. We think we are one and the same, but an honest look might reveal something different.
That is why we needed “something in the water.” Jesus is at the Jordan to be baptized as the worst of sinners. Oh no . . . it is not for His sin for He is the sinless Son of God. He is baptized on account of us. For us! Christ is taking our place. Earning our forgiveness. Fulfilling all the requirements that God demanded in our stead. This all pleases the Father. This family relationship overcame our sinful family relationships. Jesus in the water for you.
The Father is pleased that the Son has taken our place. And our baptisms are what god does for us in order that we might share in Christ’s death and resurrection. Our sins have been washed away and we are acceptable to God. Though we cannot do what we want to do perfectly – though we still struggle with the sin in us – for the sake of Jesus Christ and the baptismal grace bestowed upon us God is pleased with us.
On Nov. 3, 1996, former Royal Marine Pete Goss embarked on the most grueling competition in his sailing career: the Vendee Globe, a nonstop, single-handed, round-the-world yacht race. Goss had trained for years, and this race was everything to him.
But seven weeks after Goss’s race began, he received a May Day distress signal. It was Christmas Day. A French competitor was sinking 160 miles away. Goss was the nearest person available to launch a rescue.
Goss turned his eyes from himself and his own interests of winning the Vendee Globe to the needs of this French sailor. For two days, Goss battled hurricane winds and risk to himself to search for this man who was now near death in the vast wilderness of the southern Indian Ocean. At the sacrifice of his personal dream and victory, Pete Goss heroically saved this man’s life.
The new life of the Christian in Baptism, the life that cares for others rather than for self, is a life of death – not ours, but Christ’s. We were buried with Christ by Baptism into His death (Rom. 6:4). Christ was the one who sacrificed everything that was his to save us. Because Christ was in the water, because the Word is in the water and because one day that water was on your forehead or even your full body you have been saved. Having been saved, we willingly live the new life of sacrifice for others.
Amen.