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Category Archives: Newsletter Article

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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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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