The Pastor’s View2018-06-09T16:50:51+00:00

The Pastor’s View

February 2019

Recently I ran across this thought: “Why do we think of a Church as a building instead of a group of people gathered around Word and Sacrament?” Also in my devotional readings, I read this thought about the same time: “In Leviticus 20, God places a high priority on relationships – those between Himself and His people and those between individuals among His people. This contrasts sharply with the laws of most pagan cultures of that day (and oftentimes our own), which placed first priority on property and possessions” (Today’s Light Bible, CPH 1999, p. 169).

So much emphasis in our culture is placed on getting the “right stuff” so you can be happy. And if the people around you don’t make you as happy as “you deserve” to be, then just dispose of them and replace them…. And yet God often uses the people around us (especially the difficult ones) to help us grow spiritually and mature as Jesus’ disciples. I also ran across an interesting quote from an unlikely source: “People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.” – Audrey Hepburn.

A building, like ours, can be important (especially if it promotes a vibrant, relational ministry with our Lord Jesus – which was a motivation for our Access for All process). Our Lenten Midweek series will focus on confessing and living our lives based on the centurion’s quote: “Truly, This Is the Son of God.” My prayer is that we at Zion grow stronger as a people gathered around and welcoming others to God’s Word and Sacrament Ministry.

See you in Divine Service,

January 28th, 2019|

January 2019

I ran across a New Year’s Eve prayer, the first petition is:

       Let us pray with thanksgiving to God for another year of grace. Almighty and everlasting God, maker and preserver of all things, we give You thanks for the manifold blessings that You have graciously bestowed upon us during this past year.  In the midst of hardships and troubles, Your guiding hand and fatherly providence have sustained us. Enlighten our hearts by Your Holy Spirit that we may continually be aware of Your grace and be strengthened in times of tribulation and temptation through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  C  Amen.

Even for those of us who faced great adversity or loss in 2018, God has indeed blessed us, most especially with a new life and an eternal HOPE through the Babe of Bethlehem, our Lord Jesus. The closing petition of the New Year’s Eve prayer reminds me that our Lord will be with us (Immanuel “God with us”) through out the challenges of this 2019 “New Year”:

And finally, let us pray that the Lord would abide with us in both life and in death. O Lord, lead us onward in life until our rest is won. And when our last hour does come, support us by Your power and receive us into Your heavenly kingdom which has no end, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  C  Amen.

May our Lord bless all of us and our ministry here at Zion in 2019. I would like to challenge us all to be more intentionally in God’s Word, Bible Study, and Divine Service throughout 2019.

See you in Divine Service,

December 28th, 2018|

December 2018

In the bustle and business of every day life, how easy it is to forget all the multitude of blessings we have and forget to have an attitude of gratitude, of Thanksgiving. Especially should we give thanks for those who serve or who served in our armed forces to protect and defend our country and our freedoms. As we end the Church Year, we remember that Jesus will return as triumphant judge and end all that opposes our wondrous Triune God.

As we move into the new Church Year with the season of Advent, which comes for the Latin for “arrival” or “to come.” Past, present and future… we remember to prepare ourselves to celebrate Christ first coming in the manger, look to His coming among us now in Word and Sacrament and look forward to His second coming as righteous, conquering judge. Did you know that Advent originated as a fast of forty days in preparation for Christmas that began the day after the feast of St. Martin (which is November 11 which was the day Martin Luther was baptized and the reason he was named Martin)? As early as the 5th century, it was called “St. Martin’s Lent.” In the ninth century, Advent was shortened to the 4 weeks before Christmas yet preserved the characteristics of a penitential season (that’s why we used to use purple paraments as a counterpart to Lent). However, it also has the expectation and preparation for the feast of Christmas as well as for Christ’s second coming.

Advent is reflective and penitential and yet expectant and joyful. Theologian Henri Nouwen described the difference between joy and happiness. While happiness is dependent on external conditions, joy is “the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved and that nothing –  sickness, failure, emotional distress, oppression, war, or even death – can take that love away.” Thus joy can be present even in the midst of sadness and a great way to think of Advent. Plan to join our Divine Services to be prepared.

[Laskey, Mike Jordan. “This Gaudete Sunday, rejoice despite the heartbreak all around us”, National Catholic Reporter, 11 December 2014]

 

November 30th, 2018|

November 2018

How does one find the will of God? The best source is directly from God’s Word and then principles based on His Word. Advice from those who are spiritually mature is often very helpful. But at times, prayerfully asking God to open doors that He wishes us to enter is a wise option. For example, with the recent part-time call that I had to Atonement Lutheran in Omaha, it was very clear that I would need an additional source of income to be able to accept their divine call. So I prayerfully asked the Lord to open up such a source of income if I was to accept their call.

Then as I continued to pray, I prepared a resume (something I had never done before because our church body uses specific forms for information on pastors), searched and applied for some jobs online including chaplain positions at a couple of retirement homes, took an afternoon and dropped off the resume several places, completed an application for a Christian bookstore, phoned all 3 Circuit Visitors in the Omaha area asking about congregations who might be looking for a visitation pastor or part-time staff and then contacted those congregations. After several prayerful weeks of waiting, nothing was opening up. So I took that as God’s answer that at this time I was to continue to serve the divine call you issued me in 2005.

November holds our Adair Circuit’s first (as far as we know) circuit-wide Reformation Celebration, our Stewardship process “Embracing Great Commission Stewardship”, Thanksgiving Eve Service on November 21st with a Men’s Choir, perhaps the completion of our Access for All Construction, and “Hanging of the Greens” on November 25. Advent officially begins on December 2nd.

See you in Divine Service,                               

 

November 1st, 2018|

October 2018

As of this writing, I have not made a decision between the call Zion issued to me over 13 years ago and the part-time call that Atonement Lutheran of Omaha issued the end of August. When I reach a decision, I will announce it at the beginning of our Divine Services. Because they were issued by congregations of our Lord’s people, both calls are divine and I must prayerfully decide — trusting the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Please keep me and my family in your prayers.

The month of September has brought some sad changes. We lost 3 members from this physical life in a week.  St. John Lutheran, Adair, had their last Divine Service on Sunday, September 23.  Also, Immanuel Lutheran, Adair, and Holy Trinity Lutheran, Atlantic, both decided to close on Sunday, September 16 (Immanuel hasn’t set a closing date at this time). While sad, those who leave this physical life while trusting in our Lord Jesus now live with our Lord Jesus. Also, congregations serve to share Christ’s Gospel and build up disciples for our Lord as long as they share the pure God’s Word and properly administer His Sacraments. We are all only here for a time, indeed such a short time. The seven churches of Asia Minor with whom John first shared his Revelation no longer exist; however, the message of Revelation that we have the victory in Christ even though it appears that Satan and his forces are winning is still true! What we believers, guided by the Holy Spirit, accomplish through Jesus is crystal clear in Revelation 7: “9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”

Rejoicing in our victory in Christ, see you in Divine Service,

September 28th, 2018|

September 2018

With the approach of autumn, school starts again.  I encourage us all to keep our schools in prayer.  Our young people (and their teachers) have so many challenges and distractions today.  As someone recently told me, “Prayers are the greatest help.” Or as Proverbs 15:29 reminds us: “The Lord hears the prayer of the righteous.” And through faith in Christ, we have the righteousness of God.  Besides our local schools, please also be praying for our adult Bibles Studies, Weekday, Sunday School, Preschool and Daycare.  As James 5:16 informs us: “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”  Or as Romans 12:12 encourages: “Be constant in prayer.” Please keep praying for our young people and all those in need.

We also rejoice in the answer to many prayers as work continues on our Access for All project.  Thank you to everyone who is helping to make this dream a reality.

August 29th, 2018|