Encouragement to an Ongoing Process

May 31, 2010

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” – Galatians 2:20

Christ died once for all! By God’s grace, all who have faith in the substitutionary death of Jesus have eternal life. This is an accomplished reality. But Paul’s declaration, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” is encouragement to an ongoing process. At the moment in which saving faith is worked in us, Christ lives in us. The rest is a lifelong process of maturing, as we daily die to self, so that the life of Christ might show forth in us.

Some of us have been on this faith and life journey for much of our lives, others have begun more recently. Regardless of the length of the journey, we all begin with enthusiasm and great intentions. In spite of this, Scripture is full of examples of the faithful who “take three steps forward and two steps back.”

St. Francis DeSales, wrote these words about 400 years ago “Whatever happens, abide steadfast in a determination to cling simply to God, trusting in His eternal love for you; and if you find that you have wandered forth from this shelter, recall your heart quietly and simply.”

I smile every time I read “if you find you have wandered forth.” It’s more appropriate to say “when,” because every one of us does. The longer I am on this journey, the more readily I recognize when I have “wandered forth.” Instead of beating on myself, though, I have learned, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to “recall my heart quietly and simply,” and get back to the priority of personal solitude with Jesus. Perhaps the most significant “recall” recorded in Scripture is found in Joshua 24. Having recalled God’s gracious acts since Abraham, Joshua declared those well-known words: “Choose for yourselves this day,” “but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Are you in a period of strong commitment or a period of “wandering forth?” Wherever you may be, write the words of Paul in his first letter to Timothy (1:15-16) on an index card and keep it with you to look at often. Meditate on these words “in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” Then pray what the Spirit of Jesus may lead you to pray in response to God’s word. Consider praying the words from John Baillie’s, A Diary of Private Prayer, (evening of the 13th day):  O Heavenly Father, give me a heart like the heart of Jesus Christ.

(Written by Rev. Walt Waiser from Pastor Mirly’s Pastor to Pastor)


The Holy Trinity

May 30, 2010

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

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Ebenezer Port Hudson School, Circa 1938

May 25, 2010

Esther Hoemann has provided the following identifications for this student body photograph, probably taken in the mid- to late-1930s. The list is thought to have been written by LeRoy Danz.

From left, front row: Elsie (Schroeder) Thielke, Vera (Brune) Kamper, Dorothy (Althage) Kasmann, Leonard Brune, Ruth Althage, Esther Nething, Alice Bargen.

Second row: Stella Walkenhorst, Mildred (Helling) Mann, Mildred (Hoemann) Brune, Eileen (Brune) Walkenhorst, Mrytle (Hoemann) Harmon, Doris (Althage) Scheer, Milodren Deppermann, Stella Nething.

Third row: Hugo Nething, Leo Deppermann, Herbert Brune, Allen Althage, Emil Walkenhorst, Allen Gerdes, Irwin Althage, Harvey Hoemann.

In the back is teacher Herman Ernst.

Other pupils not in the picture: Wilbert Helling, Hulda Luecker, Harvey Schroeder, Harold Bargen, Loraine Schroeder, LeRoy Danz.

Corrections? Comments? Please share!


Ministry or Job?

May 24, 2010

Some people have a job in the church; others invite themselves into a ministry. What’s the difference, you ask?

If you are doing it just because no one else will, it’s a job.

If you are doing it to serve the Lord, it’s a ministry.

If you quit because someone criticized you, it’s a job.

If you keep on serving, it’s a ministry.

If you’ll do it as long as it does not interfere with your other activities, it’s a job.

If you are committed to staying even if it means letting go of other things, it’s a ministry.

If you quit because no one thanked you or praised you, it’s a job.

If you stick with it even though no one recognized your efforts, it’s a ministry.

It’s hard to get excited about a job.

It’s almost impossible not to get excited about a ministry.

If your concern is success, it’s a job.

If your concern is faithfulness and service, it’s a ministry.

If God calls you to a ministry, don’t treat it like a job!

Prayer: Lord, strengthen your servants and move us to a true sense of ministry and service, through your grace and mercy. Amen.


The Perplexing Work of the Holy Spirit

May 24, 2010

Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” – Acts 2:12

The crowd didn’t know what to think.

Picture it this way: You are in this crowd. You are a member of the Jewish faith. You have traveled a great distance to reach Jerusalem, a place where the language is different from your own. You are there to celebrate the annual Jewish festival of Pentecost. Suddenly, in this happy crowd of people you hear something that grabs your attention. You hear the voice of a man speaking to you in your own language. What’s really confusing is that all the people around you – no matter what nation or language they’ve come from – everyone is experiencing the same thing. In that moment, in that slice of time, you really don’t know what to think.

On that day of Pentecost, that was the perplexing work of the Holy Spirit. On that day, the Holy Spirit enabled the disciples of Jesus to speak in languages they had never studied. He did this to proclaim a message that everyone there needed to understand. He did this to proclaim Jesus Christ.

The work of the Holy Spirit is still perplexing.

Go to any place where the good news of Jesus is clearly present. Why do people take the time to come? Why do people go to the trouble? Why do people often plan their calendars around the opportunity to soak up the message of Jesus Christ with others?

It’s all because of the perplexing work of the Spirit.

In the eyes of the world, nothing so plain as the gospel should be so powerful. Nothing so plain as the gospel should be so life-changing. Nothing so plain as the gospel should have such an impact on so many souls.

But that’s the thing about the message of full forgiveness through faith in Christ. It’s the very tool the Holy Spirit uses to change hearts forever.

However, don’t be perplexed by the perplexing work of the Spirit. Instead, rejoice in it.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, you are a worker of miracles. You use the message of the gospel to bring us to Christ and keep us in Christ. Empower us to marvel in thankfulness for what you do. Amen.


Pentecost

May 23, 2010

Divine Service II, Page 158, Lutheran Worship

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Greater Than My Heart

May 17, 2010

This then is how… we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. – 1 John 3:19-20

Think about all the romantic movies you’ve seen, all the pop songs you’ve heard, all the TV family sitcoms you’ve watched. Would it be safe to say that the phrase “Follow your heart” – along with all its variations – is a phrase that you’ve probably heard dozens of times over the years?

On one level, “Follow your heart” sounds like pretty good advice. After all, at the end of the day, don’t I have to be true to myself? And if I’m not following my heart, am I not just being dishonest with myself and everyone around me?

The problem with that line of thinking is that when I follow my heart, I’m assuming that my heart knows where it’s going, and nothing could be further from the truth. Like everything else in this broken-down world, my heart by itself is a blind and confused mess; blind and confused by the disease of sin.

That’s why the One who came to rescue me is greater than my heart. Long before my heart even existed, God sent his Son. At the cross Jesus Christ bled and died to cleanse me of my every sin. Three days later he brought himself back to life. And centuries after that, he created the miracle of faith in my heart through the power of his Word.

But my heart is far from perfect. It still doubts and fears. It still stumbles and falls. And in the dead of night it still brings up a sin from my past to haunt me. If I were to follow my heart in these moments, I would give in to despair and all would be darkness.

But here’s the truth that always pulls me back: God is greater than my heart. He says so in his Word! The confused fears of my heart are no match for what God has already done through the cross and the empty tomb. And if my heart still tries to haunt and condemn – well, that’s just too bad. My heart doesn’t have the final say. God does.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for being greater than my heart. When my heart haunts me about my past, overrule it with the exclamation point of the cross and the empty tomb. Amen.