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Category Archives: Newsletter Article

Gather ~ Grow ~ Go

Now is the time to GROW!

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)

According to Charis’ seventh-grade teacher, it is past time to be planting here, “if this was a usual May.” We all know this was not a usual May…

So maybe we are behind doing what we need to be doing…

But my thoughts are to warmer days ahead and a wonderful time of vacation from school and a summer full of fun and time in the sun!

This is not a bad thing to have on the radar screen as we head into the months ahead. But it could be bad if we forget what we are about, people of St. John’s…

You see I have our mission statement at the top of this, Gather ~ Grow ~ Go.  This summer we might miss some gathering, and that is ok. We all need time away and I will be away some times during our gatherings. That is life and we need that time with our families.

We will be going this summer to many places, and hopefully being true witnesses to the love we have received.

But in the midst of all this going, we can still be growing! Now is the time to set our sights upon God and to discover how we will stay connected as we work towards being disconnected!

We need to always be seeking how we will be growing in the grace and knowledge of God. If you need some help see me before you go this summer! But I pray you will be connected to God as you disconnect to recharge in these months ahead!

 

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I Can Do all Things…

I can do all things through Him who gives me strength is one of my favorite verses in the bible.

Paul wrote it to the Philippians as he was thanking them for their concern for him and his ministry. They have financially supported him as he traveled to spread the gospel. He thanks them for their financial support and for their prayers.

He then goes on to explain to them that he has learned to live in any circumstance because he knows that God is always with him and his Savior will give him strength. “for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11b-13)

I was reminded of this verse, because it is on my desk, given to me by my wife in the midst of strife at a previous call to remind me it is not about me, or my situation, it is about who I serve…

This verse does not mean that all of the bad stuff will just go away. It does give us the assurance that no matter what we face that God will always be with us. No matter what trials might be in front of us, or what valley we might be walking through, God is always there with us, giving us the strength to go on. We have been through a lot here at St. John’s since I arrived over 5 years ago, and as a congregation, you went through a lot more in your history before that. We are a testimony to being able to make it through with God. Easter reminded us of the love God has for all of us and how God has given us lives to share. We are a group of people ready to go where God is leading us, relying on Him to see us through. We may not be able to see the end, but we know who is leading us, and walking with us, and because of that, we are able to step out in faith!

I see a body of believers who are prayerful and committed to the mission God has called us to. So let us come together and support each other and pray for each other, and walk boldly with our God into this place and be His hands and feet. Knowing that we do not go alone, but together as brothers and sisters, and with Christ who will be our strength, and give us everything we need.

So let’s step out in faith, knowing that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength!

 

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Alle…

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 Lent.

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.

Just like St. John’s here and now moving forward following the path God has put before us. Seemingly unsure about what has happened and what might happen next. But I have been there several times, where you really can’t see that next step because of the fog or the haze or your vision is unclear. And that is the time we come together and step out in faith.

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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Plans for a future and a hope…

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. ~ Jeremiah 29:11

Have you ever wondered if there was a plan for your life? Or how about a plan for us here at St. John’s?

Like there seems to be a road map that your life is following only you have never seen it…

Jeremiah is an interesting book that starts with a calling to a boy who says he is too young and unable to speak, leading through to many conversations with him and many peoples for God. All of this leads to the verse above in chapter 29.

God knows the plans He has for each and every one of us and for this place, plans for us to prosper and not fall, plans for a future and a hope. That hope is Jesus Christ! He is the future and the hope each of us can base our lives on, He is the map that will lead us to where we need to go. If we will follow where He is leading us our lives and the path for St. John’s will be clear. It may not always be easy but it will be clear for us.

St. John’s has a future and a hope. Let us focus together on where God is leading us and let us pull together and follow after Him.

So remember to notice where Jesus is working, to share that and invite others to come and see and to always keep Jesus in view, and be ready for the ride of your life as we continue to His wonderful mission here in this place!

 

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How might God work through this…

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

I’m sitting at my desk as 2018 is coming to a close and I am thinking about all the things that happened this past year. Even the night before I write this article, we lost a council member who resigned their position early and transferred to another congregation. And it is so easy to get into the bog of why did I mess that up. What if I had only done this. Maybe if I had done that things would have been different. I should have done that and I could have done this. In the words of my Clinical Pastoral Education Supervisor most times we should and could ourselves to death!

You see we can wonder how things would or could be different if we had done things differently, or they might have happened the same way anyhow. That is not to say to not be focused on what God wants us to do, but that is really the focus. You see last night I also had a very wise woman, one who has helped me look back to God many times before said to me, “Let’s not look at how bad we might have messed this up, let’s look at how God might work through this.”

You see as Romans states above, God works through all things to bring about good. That doesn’t mean that all things will be good, but that God works through all things to bring good. So how can God use your current situation or this coming year to work through for His good?

Lay this coming year in His hands and know that everything will be good in His time. So let’s look at how God might work through this!

 

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What is Christmas really about?

I’m sitting at my desk under the pressure of getting a newsletter article done 3 days for December 1. And I wonder what do I write about? So I look online for ideas and I look at old Newsletter articles to see what I wrote about before and my article from two years ago was a good one. It was about making the most of Advent and not overextending yourself during the holiday season. You can reread it at https://asacredrebel.wordpress.com/2016/12/01/remember-to-make-the-most-of-advent/. So I looked online for more top 10 things to do during Advent or Christmas. And one of the images that popped up was this one included of the Grinch. And I thought, “Hey I love the Grinch, how about that…”

So what is Christmas all about? What is Advent all about? Why do we celebrate and do all the things we do?

Because in the short half hour show of the Grinch, the Grinch learns that Christmas doesn’t come from a store. You see we do not need boxes, or bags, or ribbon or wrapping paper or gifts to make Christmas come. There are people all over the world that do not get presents or give presents on Christmas, but that doesn’t stop it from coming. We can not keep Christmas from coming. Christmas is the Christ Mass and the celebration of the Messiah coming into the world. Christmas is the day we celebrate the almighty God stepping down from His throne to lay in a manger, to grow up as one of us and to teach us how to love.

You see it is not about getting the right present, or the best wrapping. Truly Christmas is about celebrating the love that God has for you and all of His creation. It is about being present with family and friends and giving them your time, the most important gift you have.

So remember to say no to those things you do not need to be at and commit your most precious commodity, our time to your families and friends and give them the gift of you this holiday season. Just like God did. He gave us Himself. And He taught us how to love, by being here. So be there. And celebrate the Love that God gave us.

 

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Don’t forget about God

We are beginning into the hectic season of the year.

Fall parties, ok Halloween parties, just ended, or are in the works, and we are all preparing for the 2 months of the year we binge eat and go to so many parties we cannot get time to sleep.

And in all of the hecticness of parties and seasonal celebrations what happens to our faith life?

We seem to want to make it all work on the one hour we get in on Sunday mornings, and if we make 4 Sundays of worship, then that 4 hours out of the month will carry us through!

If we only got 4 hours of sleep a month would that be enough?

We need more than 4 hours of sleep to survive, now one could get 4 hours of sleep a day and function, but only 4 hours of sleep in 31, 30 or even 28 days? That is 744, 720 or 672 hours in a month depending on the number of days. And 4 hours is only 0.537%, 0.556%, or 0.595% of the month!

Is our faith going to grow or survive on a half of a percent of our time?

A devotional life, according to Frogs Without Legs Can’t Hear, is “essentially a way of living in the world connected to the saving work and message of Jesus Christ; the intersection between the eternal with the mundane in a way that personalizes God’s saving work and word.”

We need to be connected to God for more than 1 hour a week, more than 0.595% of the time!

St. Paul wrote, “Pray without ceasing!” All of life is to be connected to God and that is what our devotional life must be.

If we are going to survive as disciples of Jesus, and grow in that discipleship we need to spend more than 1 hour a week with God. If you spent 1 hour a week with others would there be a vital relationship?

So as we dig into the busy party season, let us also dig into devotional time with Jesus.

Be on the lookout for our Advent Devotional at St. John’s, and the picture a day Advent devotional I put together. And if you need other resources, ask! I would be overjoyed to help.

And God wants more than 0.595% of your time… And your life and the lives of your family will be better off with more time with God also.

So Happy Party Season! And don’t forget about God, because He will never forget about you!

 

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