Archive for the ‘Newsletter Article’ Category

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.

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?”

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!

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!

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!

The other night I was watching tv, I honestly don’t remember what the show was but a commercial came on from Toyota. It was about a football playoff down to the last seconds and a hopefully throw and catch to the end zone, but the referee called the catch out of bounds. So the team lost. Then pan to a car on the side of the road in the rain broken down, and a truck driving up. The broken down car is the ref, and the truck has the quarterback from the losing team and his family, the ref looks in like this will go nowhere, but they give him a ride. And the quarterback gives the ref a towel to dry off. The tagline is Let’s Go Compassion.

To have compassion means to have an awareness of others needs and a desire to help them.

Think how the world would change if we had compassion for others. And yes the world would change because of your actions to seek to show compassion to those around you. You would influence your tiny section of the world and that, in turn, would influence the tiny section of the world of all the people you have an impact on, and it would ripple out like waves in water.

So Let’s Go Compassion.

This year let us look out for the other, and show them the love that we just received in the gift of a baby on a manger. Let us see others as Christ sees them and give them the grace, mercy, and love He has given us.

Let’s Go Compassion!

As I was thinking about what to write for my newsletter article I did a little internet search and found this. I thought it was very appropriate to share at this time of year and is a good reminder to us all. Let us let this Advent season be one that points us to the real meaning for the season, the baby coming to us in the manger.

THE ADVENT SEASON, the four weeks leading up to Christmas, are perhaps the busiest, most hectic times of the year. In the breathless rush to make the most of the season, it is easy to forget that this sacred season is less about “holiday cheer” and more about a “holy child.” Advent is our opportunity to re-orient ourselves to receive the gift of Jesus. Here, in descending order, are the Top 10 things not to do during Advent.

  1. Do not forget your rituals:

Be careful not to treat Advent as just another busy time of the year. When we enter the Advent season, life is supposed to be different. Rituals in your personal and/or family life, can help you slow down and prayerfully ponder the gift of the Incarnation, the Son of God made flesh. Take time daily to relax, meditate or pray.

  1. Do not add to the frenzy:

If you are a parent, try not to add to the craziness of this season by being frantic yourself about last minute shopping, entertaining or decorating.

  1. Do not forget your Bibles:

What Bible passages point to Advent themes of preparation, promise, hope, expectancy, God’s enduring faithfulness, the time when God’s kingdom will be fulfilled? Advent is an excellent time of the year to familiarize yourself again with the Bible’s stories that lead up to the birth of Jesus.

  1. Do not try to be perfect for the Holidays:

Believe it or not, it’s not the end of the world if the Christmas tree has a bare spot on one side, if a bulb in one of the window candles is burnt out, or if you cannot find just the perfect gift for Uncle Bob. The holiday season can be stressful enough without allowing the drive for perfection to overwhelm you.

  1. Do not over do your schedule:

Learn to say “no” to some of the demands or events that may beg for your presence, however enjoyable or good they may be. Know your limits. As the saying goes, “Too much of a good thing is still too much.”

  1. Do not overdo gifts:

I recently heard of a study that indicates children on average receive 60% more for Christmas than they expect. Very good news for parents, right? But it also indicates that while parents need to be very clear with their children about expectations, ever more important is that they themselves need to be consistent with these expectations in their own gift giving. Remember, the focus is Jesus, God’s supreme gift to us, not our gifts to others.

  1. Do not go into additional debt:

Perhaps this is easier said than done. However, it is important to remember that the gift-giving of Christmas is supposed to spring from and be a sign of our gratitude to God for his gift-giving of Jesus. Rather than large grandiose, expensive gifts, consider giving smaller, more thoughtful items.

  1. Do not expect the culture to follow your lead:

A truly Christian approach to the month of December will inevitably be counter-cultural. If you embrace much of this list, have faith in what you are doing. Christmas is not about Martha Stewart-quality centerpiece, the gourmet Christmas feast, or getting the “hot toy of the year.” Our spiritual health depends on our resisting the cultural message that we need to get out and “shop till we drop.” Jesus came into the world to die for a different reason.

  1. Do not forget the less fortunate:

Remember that the real Christmas story is not set in a warm and cozy house, tastefully decorated and filled with more gifts than can fit under the tree, however wonderful that all may be. The real Christmas story is set amidst those who know enduring poverty and danger. What more loving witness could you offer than to seek out some holiday opportunity to identify with the poor and downtrodden as God does?

  1. Do not wait until Christmas Eve to come to Church!

Avoid the holiday rush and join us for worship in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Worship in the church is beautiful this time of year, with beautiful and powerful Advent hymns. Join us for Advent worship and allow it to bring you back to a sense of expectancy and alertness for the coming of God into our world, into your very life.