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Category Archives: Newsletter Article

Back to school

It is August and for some of us, that means it is time to start preparing to go back to school!

Teachers will be in class rooms if they haven’t been already. Getting things ready for the new students to arrive in the fall.

Parents will go back school shopping with reluctant children.

Kids will not want to go shopping.

But all of the whining and worrying doesn’t stop school from coming. It is kind of like the Grinch, no matter how many trees or presents he takes Christmas still comes. No matter how many times you say you don’t want to go shopping or hide that back to school list, school will still come. You can’t stop it from coming.

And really isn’t that how we should all live every day of our lives? School is for learning, and we should never stop learning. The day I don’t learn something is a bad day. I want to keep learning and growing.

I feel we need to have this attitude about life and faith. Our faith is never something we graduate from. It is never enough, we will never know it all. We are constantly learning and growing in our faith.

So buy some supplies and get ready to dig in and grow in your faith. Are you ready to learn with me, and to continue to grow as disciples of Jesus?

 

 

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Go but know…

“and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NRSV)

Summer is finally upon us and the time for travel has come!

So go out into the world, but remember when you go you do not leave your church behind because you cannot leave the church behind. You are the church. And you have been commissioned by God to go into all of the world. Luke tells the people in the book of Acts in chapter 1:8 that they will be God’s witnesses in Jerusalem, in all of Judea and Samaria to the end of the earth. In our times and here at St. John’s that would be, “you will be witnesses of God in all of Green Bay, in all of Door County and the UP and to the ends of the earth!”

Remember when you go places beyond your home, you are taking the light of Christ with you and you are His witnesses wherever you may go and whatever you may do.

We are the church and we take His message with us through the actions we do and the words we speak.

So go out into the world and have fun this summer, but remember St. John’s is still here waiting for you to return safely, and that you are the body of Christ going into the world as His messengers.

O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

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Don’t forget Worship!

Summer is upon us!

Finally, maybe the weather will get warmer and stay warmer so we can turn the heat off, and get outside and enjoy the sun and the wonderful scents of campfires and cookouts!

And now is the time when the kids are out of school and we will be going every which way.

As you go this summer, make sure that you don’t forget about time to worship. We need to spend time with God, and commune with the church.

Now, this does not always have to be done at St. John’s here in Little Suamico. There are many fine churches around the world that you can join for worship on a Sunday morning. I encourage you to find a congregation close to you if you are traveling where you can visit. And if you do, bring me back a bulletin, so I can see how they do their bulletin and let me know your thoughts on the worship there.

Or if you are camping out, or just can’t find someplace, you can worship around a fire, or in your hotel room. There are many resources out there for you and many for your smartphone.

So here are some links for you to apps for your phones to keep you connected to God this summer and always.

Luther’s Small Catechism:
Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/luthers-small-catechism/id1114077769
Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.augsburgfortress.smallcatechism

Bible:
Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bible/id282935706?mt=8
Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bible/id378075859
Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.faithcomesbyhearing.android.bibleis
Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sirma.mobile.bible.android&hl=en
Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Faith-Comes-By-Hearing-Bible-is/dp/B004KNAS7I

Prayer:
Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/prayermate-christian-prayer-app/id434815549?mt=8
Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/echo-prayer/id880759027?mt=8
Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.cloversites.echo
Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.geero.prayermate

These are also only a few. Let me know if you have others you use.

 

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What is God’s purpose for me?

Below is a post I took from Facebook from the page of Bishop Timothy Marcus Smith. Yes, I asked him permission to use his post. I felt it was a wonderful look at who we are as God’s children in the world today. Before Bishop Smith was elected bishop of the North Carolina Synod of the ELCA, he was a pastor in the synod, and while he was a pastor there, one of the things he did was to serve on the candidacy committee, which helps prepare people to be rostered leaders of the church. He was the chair of the committee when I was a senior in seminary and I remember Bishop Smith asking me at my approval interview how my spiritual life was going. He said they had asked all of the other candidates as well, and my interview being the last one he was wondering my answer. I truthfully answered non-existant. To which he commented that all of us had answered the question that way, and it seemed strange to him that what had brought us to the realization that God was calling us into ministry, a spiritual life and discipline, was now not a part of our lives as we were finishing our studies. We are all broken vessels in need of His care every day, so what is God calling you to do, and how will you let Him use you, a broken pot, to nurture His creation?

When we Lutherans confess our sins (which is regularly and usually corporately), we ask forgiveness for those things we have done which we ought not do and for those things we have left undone which we ought to do. To me, this means in more practical terms that our daily spiritual discernment is what the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ intend, call, lead, empower, free or compel us to do/not do. In those places where discernment reveals we’re on a faithful track with our vision, values, and actions, we are called to be “conservative.” In those places where apparently God is not done with how I am and who we are and is continually calling me/us out of fear, shame, guilt, hate, death, and self-centeredness, a faithful pursuit, it seems to me, would be what Luther called the freedom of the Gospel, liberation from all that bows down to sin, death, and the power of the devil. It’s much easier (and lazy, and often wrong) for me to label you (or you me) a conservative or a liberal. Because Christ is alive and on the loose, we are called to continue in those things (conserve) that God in Christ intends for us and to let go of, be liberated and liberate others, from those things that separate us from God and from one another, including and especially (if we heed Jesus) the “least of these.” There’s a Gospel conservative and a Gospel liberal in each of us, dynamic rather than static. My simple Easter question of myself each morning will be, “As a baptized precious child of God, what is God calling me to hold on to (conserve) for dear life, and of what is God calling me to let go (liberate) so that in some small way God’s purposes might work from both poles of this spectrum even through this broken vessel that is me?”

 

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Alle… Oops…

Alle…

Oops. Hold on…

As you are reading this article it is still Lent. But it is April and Spring and it should be Easter!

And yes that celebration is coming. This year Easter is almost as late as it can be. The latest Easter can be is April 25.

We are in that already but not yet, we already know that Jesus will rise from the dead, or has risen. Even though now we are in the waiting of Holy week.

And isn’t that really the life of the Christian, the disciple of Jesus. We are already living eternally with God through our baptism, yet we are still here stuck in our sinfulness.

Already, but not yet.

For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known, Paul tells the Corinthians. (1 Corinthians 13:12) We are there but can’t see it all around us, and yet we are not quite there yet. We know that we are a part of the kingdom, but we can’t fully understand it yet.

So hold on, and know the promises are true, just as we know in a few days we can again say Alleluia!

Christ is Risen!

 

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Walk Dusty

walk-dusty-banner_614x900Walk Dusty…

As we enter March we enter Lent. A time to remember we are dust. A time to put on sackcloth and ashes and contemplate out lives.

Well maybe not. But it is a time for reflection on the sacrifice our savior made for us. The reading for today, Ash Wednesday, from Matthew tells us to practice our piety in secret. To not let our left hand know what our right hand is doing. To not pray in public, to not make it look like we are fasting.

So why am I, and Old Lutheran, saying, Walk Dusty? Shouldn’t we show off our faith?

Well, who or what are we drawing attention to? You see all the things in the Matthew reading draws attention to us. We pray in public for attention and give so others see us and fast so we get noticed for what we are doing.

But it is not about us. When we walk dusty, we remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for us and we step out of the way and allow Him to shine through our dirty lives to give God the glory. Attention is not on us, but on Christ who is the one who lives through us.

In our brokenness, He makes us whole. We journey in our dusty dirty lives stepping out of His way so that He is glorified through our lives.

This Lent I invite you to walk dusty, and live your faith out loud so that God gets the glory!

 

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What makes you blessed?

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
(Matthew 5:1-12, NRSV)

What makes one blessed? Or to put that in a term we use every day what makes one successful?

How do we determine success?

Do you have a big bank account? A nice new fancy car? The newest phone? The best electronic devices?

Do these things make one successful? Do these things make you blessed?

Maybe according to the world and the prosperity gospel. But not to Jesus.

Jesus says that you are blessed when you seek after him because you can’t do it on your own. Blessed are you when people revile you because of me. Blessed are you when you seek for justice for others and have all justice removed from you.

You see we live in a world where it is about us first, but in the kingdom of God it is about the other first. God gave His Son so you could be in a relationship with Him. He thought of you over His own Son. And He wants you to think of the other before yourself.

You see God requires us:
To Do Justice
Love Kindness
and to Walk deliberately with Him!

So look out for the other first. And He will always fill you back up!

 

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