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Category Archives: Newsletter Article

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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Semper Reformanda

On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 Thesis to the door of Wittenberg Church.

It was the beginning of the Reformation.

The change of the understanding of who we are as the body of Christ. Martin Luther did not want to start a new denomination, or break away from the church catholic. He wanted to reform areas he knew were not aligned with the Holy Scripture in practices of Dogma in the church. He wanted to change the practices to match what was said in the Bible. Radical!

And is this a bad thing? To be in line with the Bible? How many things do we do today that are not inline with the Holy Scripture?

Ecclesia semper reformanda est is a Latin phrase first used by Karl Barth in 1947 and it means “the church is always to be reformed.” Barth derived this from a saying of St. Augustine an early church father. It means that the church must always reexamine itself, in order to maintain purity in doctrine and in practice.

A variation by Barth on his own phrase is Ecclesia reformata semper reformanda. This means “the reformed church (is) always to be reformed”. Meaning our need for change or evaluation is never down.

We need to not be complacent in the way we do things, but always evaluating the best practice. We must be willing to follow Christ where He is leading us, regardless of where we have been, or if we see we need to do thing differently.

So in this month of October, be ready to look where we have been, where we are, and where we are going. Ready to move and to do as Christ leads us always ready to reform!

And remember change isn’t bad or good it is merely different. And that maybe were God is calling us to be.

 

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Change

It is September and time to get back into the routine of how things are during school. Routine?!?!?!

I’m sitting at my desk thinking about how we now have new staff members and things are not routine. Things are not happening the way they always have and that is not bad it is just different.

But isn’t it funny how we look for Fall to be that time when the hustle and bustle of Summer gives way to routine, and how nerve racking it can be to not have that routine.

We are joined this Fall by Patrick Kieper as our Youth & Family Minister and so things will be different. Patrick will bring new and exciting ideas for our youth and all of the congregation. His passion for ministry will hopefully ignite all of our lives and help us to grow deeper in our faith! But with this will come some different ways of seeing and doing things.

We are also joined in the office by Julie Cavil our new Office Manager. She brings a passion for helping others and using her talents to help us all be in the know and keep St. John’s moving forward. She will be a wonderful asset to our team. She will bring a new way of looking at and doing things.

All of this change might rock the boat a little, but I am reminded of the sign that hangs in my office, Change isn’t just something you get from a vending machine.

Change isn’t good or bad, it is just different. If we focus on where God is leading us, that is what it is about. Growing as disciples and following God where He leads us.

So get ready for the unroutine routine of Fall and settle in to deepen your 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.

This is the attitude we need to have about life and faith. Our faith is never something we graduate from. Confirmation isn’t the end of our learning process or mean we are perfect disciples of Christ. 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. Crack open your bible and knock the dust off of it and dig into it. We need to seek and learn. Are you ready to learn with me, and to continue to grow as disciples of Jesus?

 

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Running Relationships

I’m sitting at my desk thinking about the upcoming youth trip to Houston and all the things that have to be done for that. All the money the youth still have to raise. And I think about all the things that need to get done between now and the time of our family “vacation” to the Black Hills, and that needs to be done before the youth trip after that.

My mind wanders as I think about all the things that need to get done and all the things that will have to be done this summer. We seem to kick it into overdrive in the warm months here and fit in everything we have not been able to do when we were inside.

And that thought makes me think of the picture, which is The Trinity by Andrei Rublev. It is a depiction of the Holy Trinity with a wealth of images imposed together. There is the mountain and the tree for the cross and the temple. 3 “angels” or “persons” communing together. They are living in relationship together. And the best thing about this icon for me is, the Trinity is not complete. You see at the bottom of the icon, between the feet of the Father and the Spirit there is an opening. There is space that needs to be filled or an opening for you.

You see sometimes we get so hung up on what we think we have to do that we miss what we need to be at. I’m guilty of this. You see God is always in relationship and is inviting us into relationship with Him.

This trip to Houston with the youth is about building relationships. Don’t lose sight of the relationships God has blessed you with and work on building them this summer.

 

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