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Paths and Plans

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

I was reminded of this path today when I received a message from a confirmation student from the congregation I served in Victoria. This is a path at Ebert Ranch. A camp in the Southwestern Texas Synod of the ELCA. It is a beautiful place with horses and long horns, and a great place to get away and connect with God. This path I believe if memory serves me correctly led to a labyrinth. A place where one journeys inward to find the path or the plan that God is calling us to. Have you ever wondered if there was a plan or a path to life?

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 everyone of us, 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.

Just as Jesus brought St. John’s and my family together, He is continuing to work in and through all of us to bring about His plan and mission here in this place.

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!

Grace,

PJ

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What will you do this year?

It is a new year! 2017 is gone and 2018 is here and now is the time we think about what we will do this year.

So what are your resolutions this year?

Do you want to lose weight?

Do you want to quit smoking?

Maybe it’s to quit drinking.

Maybe you want to save more money.

Or maybe you want to get into shape. Let me remind you that round is a shape.

How many of

us will make resolutions and do our best to keep them and seem to fall short come January 15, or maybe if we’re lucky February 1?

How about we look at resolutions this year a little different?

How about if everyone here focuses on God rather than ourselves?

What if we look at the Holy Trinity instead of the unholy trinity (that is me, myself, and I).

You see 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” Whatever you do do it for the glory of God. Make everything you do this year, not about yourself, but

about God.

Make your resolution to live your life for God, even if no one else does.

If we all focus our lives on God, then we will also have happier healthier lives and all of society will benefit. Who is with me?

 

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Holiday Bucket List

I shared this picture on Facebook and have seen it several places. I think it is a great way to orient ourselves at this time of year. But it also reminds me that sometimes we fall short of the mark.

Some of you may be aware that St. John’s received an anonymous letter early in early November. This letter was from a family that has visited us here at St. John’s several times and wanted us to know that they did not feel welcomed at fellowship or a “part of the gathering after church”.

I have shared this letter with council and a few or our committees and all seemed to wonder how this could happen, but have also shared with me similar things that have happened. I know of members of the congregation who voiced to me concerns about feeling welcomed. Just the other night at a committee meeting, a member of the committee shared how they sat at a table and those who were already sitting there didn’t even make eye contact with them.

One of the things that drew me to St. John’s was the welcoming open atmosphere and the genuine concern this congregation portrayed. We are open and welcoming in worship but the fellowship time has seemed to have taken on a time for sharing with friends and catching up from the past weeks. And don’t get me wrong we all need time to do this, but we as members of the congregation need to be aware of the perceptions that are happening in our building. People are leaving our congregation on Sunday morning feeling alone. People are sitting at tables and being shunned. And I know, as you know, we are better than that.

And I am at fault here also. I do not spend a lot of time in fellowship because I am usually in Adult Sunday School. Should I be in fellowship, yes I should. However, I should also be at Adult Sunday School. I’m not pointing fingers at others, I am saying I am at fault here too.

So what do we do about this?

We be present and talk to people. Make a conscious effort to say hello to someone you are not sure who they are. Ask them there name and chance asking if they are a visitor. I have done that to members of all the congregations I have pastored because I haven’t seen them in a while and just plain forgot. We are human.

Give hugs and spend time with friends. Fellowship is about building up the body, including new people and fostering lifelong relationships.

Send love to those around you. Seek out someone who looks down and see if you can help. Be the presence of Christ in the moment for someone.

Be the light in this place and everywhere. God has given us a wonderful place to call home in St. John’s! Let us share that with everyone and open ourselves up to the new and the old and embrace where God is leading us.

So be the light and welcome the stranger in our midst and let us build the body of Christ!

 

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Being thankful…

We are entering the month of November with our holiday coming up here in the United States of Thanksgiving, where we gather with our families and we sit around and overindulge on foods we probably shouldn’t eat and then sleep on couches as we “watch” football games. Now don’t get me wrong I will be doing all of this. But why do we do this?

We do this because we are thankful.

But what does it mean to be thankful?

I looked up thankful on Merriam-Webster.com and it means conscious of benefit received.

It means when I am thankful that I understand the benefits I have received.

And benefits may or may not be tangible. Meaning I may not be able to hold those benefits in my hands.

For instance, I am oh so thankful for the people of St. John;s and the benefit I have received from you. You are open and welcoming and you go out of your way to help others, it is a truly thankful job to be your pastor.

I am oh so thankful for the blessing and benefit I get from my 3 beautiful daughters. They are a joy and wonder as I watch them grow into wonderful young ladies who will take on the world and continue to bring joy and blessing to my life.

And I am so thankful for the blessing God gave me in my wife. She is a rock that keeps me grounded and a magnificent companion in this life. I am blessed and thankful beyond imagination!

So always remember that no matter what is happening in your life there is always something to be thankful for.

So be thankful, conscious of the benefit of your life and blessings, and thank God for that.

 

 

 
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Posted by on 2017/11/01 in Newsletter Article

 

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Strong beliefs, loosely held.

I sit at my desk and put off writing this article because I don’t know what to write about. But I wonder today if any of us will actually listen to the other. If we will open our minds to the possibility that we may not have all for information and we could actually be misinformed.

I read an article today titled Facts Don’t Change People’s Minds. Here’s what does. It can be found here: https://heleo.com/facts-dont-change-peoples-minds-heres/16242/

It is a short article and worth the read. I read it and thought, “Wow that is spot on.” How many of us go looking for opinions on topics that are different than ours? How many of us will listen to/read an article that is opposite to our viewpoint?

We have friends that are the same thought process as us. We find people on Facebook that think the same as us. We follow people on Twitter that think the same as us. As I scroll through my Facebook feed today I am met with the opinions of everyone on the kneeling/sitting/standing for the National Anthem. And all of the articles and pictures and sound bites are just feeding the hysteria over this. We all have our opinions on what is the proper thing to do. But how many of us will change our mind because it is thrown in our face time and time again?

None of us will change our mind because someone is telling us we are wrong. We will shut down and not allow any fact to persuade us to change our minds. Until we can hear the other without trying to change their mind, and actually see things from their point of view with the possibility we might need to change we will not move out of where we are.

As followers of Christ, we are called to love all and seek justice for the least of these. We cannot do this by saying we are always right and everyone else is wrong. We are called to see things from the other point of view, not to lose our beliefs, but to be the hands and feet of Christ. The article says it this way:

Marc Andreessen has a saying that I love: “Strong beliefs, loosely held.” Strongly believe in an idea, but be willing to change your opinion if the facts show otherwise.

Can we be open-minded and show the world the love that Christ has for it?

 

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G.R.O.W.

It is September and school is almost here. That means that learning will be starting…

But learning is not just for public and private education or to be done by just kids.

Learning is something we all need to do through out all of our lives.

We have confirmation which helps us learn the faith and helps parents teach the faith to their kids which is a promise they make to their child in baptism. And this year we are switching things up a bit in confirmation!

We have an online curriculum for our confirmation students to work through, and this year it is available to all members of the congregation! We are having our confirmation gathering called GROW – Gather & Reflect On Wednesday. This is confirmation time, for parents and confirmation students to gather. However, this time is also a time for all congregation members to Gather & Reflect On Wednesday. We are all still learning about our faith, I am constantly seeing different things with Bible texts and confirmation texts, hearing new ways of looking at passages from youth and adults. I am constantly learning and growing in our faith which is what being a disciple is all about. Learning from Jesus about our life in Him. Listening to Him and others to GROW in our faith!

So join us starting September 13 at 7:00 PM for our first GROW session this year.

We will be working our way through the catechism this year in confirmation and our first lesson will be Intro to the Small Catechism and it can be found at http://toolboxforfaith.org/catechism/intro-to-the-small-catechism/

All of the lessons can be found on http://toolboxforfaith.org/

I hope you will join us as we learn more and GROW in our faith!

 

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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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