Monday, November 30, 2015

Enjoy Work

"Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established." Psalm 16:3

I have always attempted to teach my children and grandchildren to enjoy the work that they do. Work is inevitable. We must work to eat, to have shelter, to have warm clothing; and, if you really must want a lot of nice things, you must really put a lot of effort into earning that "stuff." We spend a huge portion of our lives working so we may as well enjoy it. Making a game of doing house or yard chores and doing it together helps it to me more fun.

As young people begin planning for what kind of life-long career they would like to pursue, they ought to consider what it is that they will enjoy doing. Do you enjoy helping people? How about computers or working with animals? There are so many career choices in the world today, it is impossible to comprehend them all. Whatever it you love to do; whatever talents that God has gifted you with; follow that path.

God has a plan for you. He calls you to serve him according to the gifts He gifts you. Whether it is a talent and desire to be a doctor or a hostess; God provides the opportunities to be trained in the way He would have you go. And... don't forget to commit your work to the Lord. Do all things that they might glorify your Father in heaven and you will not only do them well; but, enjoy doing them.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Pray With Faith

"Whatever you ask for
in prayer with faith,
you will receive.” Matt 21:22
Pray, pray, pray and pray some more. We must be persistent, trusting in God that He will work things out according to His will and in His time. God does indeed answer prayers. Sometimes, it takes a little longer than we would like. Sometimes, it takes a whole lot longer than we would like. But, He does answer them. The answers don't always come in the way that we would like, either. But, they come. God is good and "we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose." Rom 8:28

I do love Him. God is good, all of the time!

God's Peace - Pr. J

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Walk in Integrity

The righteous walk in integrity—
    happy are the children who follow them!
A king who sits on the throne of judgment

    winnows all evil with his eyes."
                                                Prov 20:7-8

My grandchildren are growing up and I am growing old. One word that they have heard from me an awful lot over the years is "integrity." I have admonished them many times to "walk with integrity" and to "speak with integrity." That is to not embellish stories so that the stories fall apart once the details of the story begin to be questioned and to not be creating drama for drama's sake.

I usually do not remind anyone other than my grandchildren to walk and talk with integrity. But, that is not because I don't want to. I simply don't feel that it is my place or that it will do any good. My grandchildren, though, I have major amounts of hope for so I remind them of the way the Lord would have them go so that they might have peaceful and fruitful lives. The "others" usually just get the "eye." My grandchildren also know about the "eye." Many times over the years, when my eldest granddaughter and I have been together, she has asked me, for no apparent reason at all: What?" I will respond, "I didn't say anything." She complains that I looked at her with that "eye." That is usually when I start wondering and questioning what she is up to; what she is planning that she doesn't want me to know about. I do this because I care about her life and her future and not just life in this world; but, in the Kingdom to come.

The righteous are those who are cleansed by the blood of Jesus and because he abides with and in them, they will desire to walk in integrity, to walk in the way of his truth. Happy are the children who follow those who walk in integrity. Happy are the children who follow Jesus.

May God keep you in his truth, talking and walking in integrity.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Friday, November 27, 2015

Sing Psalms, Hymns, And Spiritual Songs

Sometimes, it seems, we can share the Word of God and His love with all that we have in our inner being; but, it reaches deaf ears. It is met with rudeness and even anger. There are many who just do not know how to react to genuine love.

What to do about this? We are to continue sharing the Word with all who will listen. Do not be afraid of slander or any kind of vicious attacks. Rather, continue to: "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God." Col 3:15 NRSV

Remember that you are a child of God and He will be with you always, no matter what befalls you.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanks - Giving

Kaye bringing offerings
of thanks-giving

I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
    and I will glorify your name forever." Psalm 86:12 NRSV

As my husband and I headed out for worship last night, he asked me when Thanksgiving became a Christian holiday. That was the second time someone asked me this year about the purpose of a thanks-giving service on the eve of the Federal holiday of Thanksgiving. The question kind of floors me when I hear it. If we're not giving thanks to God, then who or what? Of course, if we're giving thanks, we ought to be giving it to God. He has cared for us and provided for us abundantly.

The service was led mainly by the choir with "The Holy City" as they helped us to remember, through both spoken and sung words, the things that God has done for us through Jesus that we might obtain the precious gift of eternal life in the Holy City, in the Kingdom of God.

Our thank offerings for the evening included food for our local food pantry at St. Vincent de Paul's in order that others might receive their daily bread and give thanks to the Lord, who is our provider.  Thanksgiving is about giving thanks and; yes, it is also about giving that which was first given us.

The question when did thanksgiving become a Christian holiday does, in fact, kind of stump me. It has always been a time set aside to give thanks for all that God has given us. I did not give much thought to my response to my husband. I just sort of shook my head and told him, "Well, since so few people want to worship and thank God for the gift of Jesus on Christmas morning, we're going to do it on Thanksgiving Eve." We did. Thanks be to God working through the Zion Choir!

May God bless you in your thanks - giving.

God's Peace - Pr. J

P.S. Due to the lack of interest in worship on Christmas morning, Zion, as well as many other Christian churches, do not worship on Christmas morning. The congregation does; however, have candle-light Christmas Eve Service both at 6 pm and 11 pm (ends a little after midnight) in order to fulfill my stubborn desire to worship on Christmas morning.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

If We Say We Have No Sin

"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." 1 John 1:8-10 NRSV

Not too long ago, I had occasion to listen to someone insist that they had never stolen anything from anyone. They were totally incapable or unwilling to confess that they were guilty of taking something that belonged to another in spite of the fact that concrete evidence had been presented in a courtroom more than once; that they had been found guilty a few times; and had spent time in jail and in prison on at least a couple of occasions.

I wish that this were an isolated incident; but, it is not. Over and over again, I have witnessed this inability to confess a sin even though there were witnesses; even though confession would have helped them in the long run.

About a year ago, I witnessed two teen-age boys breaking into a house. But, they claimed that they were innocent. I was mistaken. How do you mistake someone crawling through a bedroom window? Apparently, I can! I guess they were just going to visit even though no one was home. They meant no harm. There was no need for forgiveness because they denied it; the incident was forgotten and these young people continued in the way that they had been  going. 

We all sin. But, according to St. John, it is imperative that we confess our sins so that we can receive forgiveness. Being cleansed from all unrighteousness, we can move on with our lives in a new and fruitful way that will benefit not just ourselves but others around us.

"If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Sadly, in this world there are those who feel that they do not need to be cleansed of unrighteousness. Sadly, there are those who feel that doing injustice is the way to live and to teach others to live.

Jesus died so that we might receive forgiveness and be reconciled to our Father in heaven and to the whole Body of Christ. This forgiveness is for all who would believe in him; none are excluded. Repent; turn around and follow Jesus into the Kingdom of God.

May God speak to our hearts and minds that we might all repent and turn to Him; following in our Lord's footsteps; helping and defending rather than doing injustice to our neighbors.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

He Lead Me Beside Still Waters

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff—
  they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
 my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
  all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
 my whole life long.
Psalm 23 NRSV
May your day be richly blessed with God's peace.  Pr. J

Monday, November 23, 2015

I Prefer To Seek The Lord's Presence

"One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple." Psalm 27:4

I love professional football. Not! I understand that professional football is a national obsession. I do appreciate the opportunity a few young men find in being selected to play professional ball. How exciting for them and their families. But, I personally find professional football just a bit too materialistic. I have never really been able to figure out why people who are struggling to feed their families or make their mortgages would support an organization that charges so much to see a game. I am also a little nauseated by the news that all that patriotic support for  military members that they so often display is actually paid for by taxpayers. Yes, according to a PBS News Report, the government pays for these shows of patriotism. I am not against football; just the glorification of it and all the idolatry that goes with professional football. I do attend High School football games now and then in support of the youth who play. Instead of sitting on the couch and watching football; why not take your children or grandchildren outside and teach them the game?

But, the truth is that there is something that I really do appreciate about televised football. As my husband is intent on sitting in front of the television for hours watching a game, it affords me the opportunity to retreat to a quiet place and pray. Televised football games on Sunday afternoons gives me the opportunity to intentionally come into the Lord's presence, to seek His beauty, and to inquire of Him what He would have me to; in which direction I should go.

After all; does not desiring to live in the house of the Lord mean that we desire to live in His presence for all eternity; even today?

Let us seek to live always in His presence.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Rising Son on Sunday Morning

(Original photo by Jane Moylan VanBuren)
"When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb." Mark 16:1-2

It is a rare occasion when I am actually able to observe a sabbath on the Sabbath. Every now and then I will absolutely refuse to do anything on Saturday so that I can take a much needed rest. But, those times are rare. I infuse my days and weeks with hours of prayer so that I can rest and be renewed in God's presence.

Can you imagine the excitement of the women at the tomb on that first day of the week when they found that Jesus was risen? Even as the sun began to rise in the sky they found that the Son of Righteous had risen from the grave.

It will be a few hours before the sun rises this Sunday morning; on this first day of the week. But when it does rise, I will be off to worship. I will be off to an intentional hour of entering into God's presence; to witness the living presence of God in Christ Jesus through the Word and the Sacrament of Holy Communion. I will gather with the saints in Skanee on this first day of the week to celebrate that our Lord is risen. He is risen, indeed!

I pray that you will join me in this celebration at your local congregation wherever that might be.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Pray For Self

Every now and then when praying with someone who is suffering, I find that they refuse to pray for themselves. They are very fastidious in praying for others; but, they feel it would be selfish to pray for themselves. The problem with this is that we need to be healthy and strong in the Lord in order to serve God or others. It is not selfish to pray for our own health and wholeness. Every member of the Body of Christ needs to be well in order for it to serve in its greatest capacity.

As I discussed this topic the other night with some friends, I realized that I, too, fall into the category of someone who does not pray for themselves very much at all. My "prayer list" is so long that I rarely get to me, at least nothing personal, except for this one petition that I make daily at least in some form.

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer." Amen (Psalm 19:14 NRSV)

May God help us to stay in perpetual prayer for others as well as for ourselves that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Friday, November 20, 2015

Give The Gift Of Love

Pre-Black Friday online shopping has begun. I spent a few minutes this morning skimming through a couple of sites. The reality is: everyone that I give gifts to has everything they need and most everything that they want. Well, maybe not everything they want; but, everything I could possibly afford to give them.

The one gift that some of them have not received is faith in Jesus the Christ. It is not that God hasn't given them this awesome gift. Jesus did; after all, die for all people. It is that some just seem to refuse the greatest gift of all; to be reconciled to God our Father through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

As you consider what gifts to share with others this holiday season; consider sharing the greatest gift ever given to humankind. Consider sharing the Good News that others might hear and by the power of the Spirit of Christ, receive this gift of love and life through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Do not hide this gift like an unwanted fruitcake in the back of a cupboard. Share it. Give the greatest gift of love.

God's Peace - Pr. J 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Refrain From Strife

It is honorable to refrain from strife,
    but every fool is quick to quarrel. Prov 20:3

Lately I have been biting my tongue and restraining my fingers from typing words that are best left unsaid, an awful lot, in order to keep from quarreling with some who appear to be provoking quarrels and strife. It is not always easy for me; but, I do try. Every now and then something slips through my lips or the tips of my fingers and I am confessing that sin before the day's end.

The world appears to be in quite a mess right now. ISIS has caused and continues to cause much devastation. But, it's not all that helpful for those whom ISIS threatens with death to be fighting with each other. There are way too many conflicts going on all over the world (there always are) for any country or people to expend any more time or energy stirring up more conflict amongst themselves.

Is it not time for us to refrain from strife and quit quarreling amongst our brothers and sisters here and around the world so we can focus on taking care of the imminent and very real dangers that ISIS is bent on bringing?

I am fortunate to live in a country where we have freedom of speech; freedom of religion; and a whole lot of freedoms that many in this world do not have. I am very disappointed that we often take those freedoms for granted and use them to cause strife and quarrels. Instead of being thankful for these freedoms we abuse the privileges by using them to cause more strife and quarrels. We do not have the time to argue with or slander one another; we have way too much to do. There is enough suffering in the world without adding to it.

I do not think that I will be repenting of this blog by this day's end.

May God help us to live and work in unity to protect all whose lives are being torn apart and even ended.

God's Peace - Pr. J 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Be Still and Listen!

If one gives answer before hearing,
    it is folly and shame. Prov 18:13 NRSV

It has been many years since I was trained as a small group facilitator. A major component of facilitating is listening; another is directing the conversation in a way that is helpful.

I was attempting to watch the news last night and found myself flipping through news channels quite regularly. I was getting a bit frustrated with the way the news people were constantly interrupting the people they were interviewing to get responses more in line with their or their station's personal agendas. During one particular interview, the news person was interviewing three people. Everyone was talking at once. It was not helpful not to be able to hear what anyone had to say.

At one of the presidential debates this fall, there was also much interrupting and trying to talk over each other. The people facilitating the debate just added to the problem. They had no control over the candidates mostly because the facilitators appeared to have their own agendas. They would also interrupt and try to talk over the candidates who were trying to talk over each other. They had no ability to mediate or moderate. I could not figure out why they hadn't figured out that they just needed to shut off the mics of the offending candidates until it was their turn to speak. That is what is done with online schools when children start interrupting too much. Our candidates and news people, of course, are not children. But, it would be nice if some of them would learn to be quiet and listen and if they cannot control themselves, shut off their mics for their own sakes and ours until it is their turn to speak. One mic turned off on someone rudely interrupting another would probably be the last mic that needed to be turned off.

If we really care about others enough to want to hear what someone is saying; if we really care about figuring out a solution to any problems; then we ought to be quiet and listen to various points of view. It is not helpful to talk over others or belittle their opinions (that would be bullying which we also try to teach our children not to do). We can learn a lot by being still for a few moments and listen to voices other than our own.

There are so many opinions in the way that we could or should go. Who can know the way?

If you care about what direction the Lord would have you go; then, be quiet and listen. Be still and hear what the Lord has in store for you. He will show you "The Way."

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Every Knee Shall Bow

Turn to me and be saved,
    all the ends of the earth!
    For I am God, and there is no other.
By myself I have sworn,
    from my mouth has gone forth in righteousness
    a word that shall not return:
“To me every knee shall bow,
    every tongue shall swear.”
Only in the Lord, it shall be said of me,
    are righteousness and strength;
all who were incensed against him
    shall come to him and be ashamed.
Isaiah 45:22-24
In the end, every knee shall bow before the Lord God. Let us trust in the Lord, the King of Kings, for our salvation.
God's Peace - Pr. J

Monday, November 16, 2015

God Calls Us Beyond Ourselves

I was reminded by a post on facebook this morning how terribly afraid some are of being confronted by God. It is much better to keep the music blaring in our ears and to sleep with the television on than to take a chance that God just might whisper in our ear and call us to follow Jesus. I have often thought that this might also be the reason that there are those who prefer not to worship God by attending worship services even though they claim to be Christians. They may just be afraid that in hearing His Word in the lessons or preaching or even the hymns they may be called to step out beyond their own desires and follow Jesus.

And... we all know where Jesus leads us. He leads us to the cross. He calls us to die to ourselves so that we might live in him and that he might live and reach out to others through us. There is a great possibility that if we take the time to listen to God rather than the world around us that we might just be asked to make a few changes in our lives and no one really wants to do that.

I know that I have quoted Annie Dillard from her book "Teaching a Stone to Talk" in at least a couple of sermons. Thanks to a facebook post, here it is again, especially for those who do not attend worship services because they are afraid that God might call them to a place beyond themselves and they would not be able to return to their old way of living. Yes; indeed, it takes a bit of courage to hear God's Word and actually listen to him.

"It is madness to wear straw hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping God may wake someday and take offense, or the waking God may draw us out to where we can never return."

God's Peace - Pr. J

Sunday, November 15, 2015

May The Lord Bless You

There are a lot of people hurting in this world. What can we do to help?

How do we reach out to others? How do we reach them? How do we get others to understand that the Lord desires that all people would receive his blessings and live in his peace? We cannot without the Lord's help. But, with him all things are possible.

Let us begin by asking God's blessings on others. Let us begin with prayer for and with others. Let us pray...

"The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace." Num 6:24-26

God's Peace - Pr. J

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Light Overcomes Darkness

I lost a couple of hundred dollars last night while hauling groceries into the house. It had slid out of my pocket. The yard light was burned out so I was walking around vehicles in the dark with a very tiny pocket flashlight. I could not find a "real" flashlight. After, I had finally given up on looking, I found it inside of the house where the lights were burning brightly.

After putting the groceries away, I sat down to watch the news to find more darkness. Paris had been attacked by extremists. It is being said, by some in the media, that the targets were targets that epitomized indulgence and idolatry.

Here is the difference between those who would follow Jesus and those who do not. Extremists think that everyone must think and believe and live as they do. They will stifle speech by attacking others. There is no room for discussion or debate with extremism of any kind (right or left). Extremists will bring darkness because they live in darkness; while, those who follow Jesus, who is the light unto the world, will bring light.

No, Christians do not support idolatry; but, we also understand that we will not change the world by attacking and killing everyone who does not think or act like we do. Followers of Christ do not attack others by words or actions in order to shut them down because they do not agree with us. (Many of us; however, will not just look the other way when others are being unjustly attacked.)

There are some extremists in this country, as there are around the world, who would have us live in the darkness. They would take away free-thinking, free-speech, freedom period, because what we think or say or do; because Jesus, himself, offends them. However, no matter how offensive the Good News is to some, that will not stop us from reminding people that Jesus is the true light of the world. He is the only way to be reconciled to God and to one another. Sadly, even many Christians seem to have forgotten that. The darkness can sometimes be perpetuated by some, who in the name of Christianity (not Christ), would silence those who disagree with them just as those who do not follow Jesus would silence all of Christianity.

The days can sometimes seem as dark as the night. A little light will not help us to see clearly. Darkness is overcome by the great light, who is Jesus the Christ.

"... let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." Matt 5:16

May the light of Christ shine in you so brightly that even in the darkest of places others might find "The Way."

God's Peace - Pr. J

Friday, November 13, 2015

Hunter's Dinner and Fellowship

I have  been doing a lot of peeling lately. Every fall, I can expect to go out to my car after worship and find gifts of bags of apples. I make apple pies, baked apples, apple bars, and applesauce out of them. I usually share the applesauce as Christmas presents. It gives me a good excuse to stop and visit people who I normally would not and who are not members of my congregation.

This morning, members of my congregation and I am sure some visitors will be gathering together to peel potatoes and rutabagas. We are preparing for our annual Hunter's Dinner which is tomorrow. I am looking forward to spending this time sitting around buckets of veggies and just communicating with others that I don't usually get to spend too much time with. Tomorrow is the eve of the first day of the Yooper Holiday known as deer season. We will celebrate that event as we gather together in fellowship over a meal in the church basement with visitors from near and far that we have not seen since the last hunting season. We will share many stories. But, most importantly we will give thanks for all our friends who return annually to our community and take the time to come and fellowship with us.

We give thanks to God for all of His children and the opportunity to know and love them.

God's Peace - Pr. J

P.S. The only hunting I do is with a camera or at the Hunter's Dinner. That would kind of be like fishing for people. Fellowship while peeling potatoes or at a community dinner is an awesome way to share you lover for Jesus and his love for all people.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


The internet was down when I woke up at 5 this morning. Rebooting the modem, the router, and the computer, itself, a few times did not help. I decided to finish the sermon I've been struggling with instead of wasting any more time trying to fix it myself. I live in the woods, at the end of the line, so my high speed DSL isn't always so high speed and it goes completely out every now and then, seems like more often in bad weather than good. I figured I had tried all that I could try and I would call the tech when their office opened at 8 a.m.. I waited and wrote.

I have learned to wait on the internet. I have learned to wait on many things. Everything does not always go as I plan. But, life continues. There is no sense to getting upset about something so minor and that we have no control over. There are so many things in this world that are so much worse than the internet not working or a television show or a computer game being disrupted. It can even be a good thing when we lose our connection with the world wide web from time to time.

Paul wrote to the Ephesians (4:1-3) "I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."  Here is Paul, in prison, begging the Ephesians to lead lives with humility, gentleness, and patience bearing with one another in love. Paul met his imprisonment not just with patience; but with joy that the Lord had opened many doors in that prison so that he could proclaim the Good News to those who would not otherwise hear.

Some of the things that we lose patience with are pretty trivial compared to the troubles others suffer in the world. It would be best to ignore these minor obstacles and just move on past or over them. Don't let them interfere with what God has called you to do. Take advantage of what might seem to be a hindrance; because, it just might be a door opening for you. 

Just as I finished the sermon at 7:30, the internet came back on all by itself.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

For The Sake Of Others

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." John 15:12-13 NRSV

Jesus lay down his life not just for his friends; but, for all who were his enemies, as well. He lay down his life for those who rejected and refused to live in the truth.

Today is Armistice Day. Armistice with Germany went into effect on the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. Today, we remember all Veterans of the many wars that this country has been involved in since our inception. It is for freedom's sake that our armed services generally find themselves in armed conflicts or war. It is not for their own sakes that they fight; but, for the sake of loved ones; friends; even enemies; for the sake of the whole they are willing to lay down their lives.

Today we give thanks for all who are willing to lay down their lives that others might live and lively freely.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday!
Today, my husband and I celebrate two birthdays.

For 44 years, since my husband first joined the United States Marine Corps, we have been observing the birth of United States Marine Corps. We usually celebrate on the Saturday closest to the birthday with dinner and the traditional cake ceremony with other Marines and families from the area. We no longer stay for music or dancing. Being with friends for the ceremony and dinner fill us up. I do my dancing to the sound of the piano or organ the next day. And... let, me tell you! Bertha and Linnea can make those old Lutheran hymns most danceable!

Yes, thanks to these two wonderful musicians (and Leslie who fills in at times) I have learned to love Lutheran hymns. There was a time, when I was young, that I felt they were kind of ho hum. Maybe, it was the musicians; maybe, it was just me.

Today, even as I honor my husband and the birth of the United States Marine Corps today, I thank God for the birth of another mighty warrior, Martin Luther. His battle was against false teachings prevalent in the church at the time. There remains false teachings in the church on earth today. Let down your guard and the devil sneaks them right back in. The battle continues; the battle against forces that would dilute or change the word of God to the harm of all whom God has called; to the harm of all who unknowingly follow false teachers and prophets.

"A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
our helper he amid the flood
of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
doth seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right man on our side,
the man of God's own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth, his name,
from age to age the same,
and he must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God hath willed
his truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure,
for lo, his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers,
no thanks to them, abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are ours,
thru him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
this mortal life also;
the body they may kill;
God's truth abideth still;
his kingdom is forever."

                        Martin Luther

Happy Birthday!

God's Peace - Pr. J

Monday, November 9, 2015

Football and Christianity; Participant or Observer?

Live Life! Live as an active member
of the Body of Christ. 
There is a great difference between a member of a team and an observer.

There are a multitude of Green Bay Packer fans in the Upper Peninsula. There are also a few Lions fans. Note the word fans. People who get to an occasional game or sit on the couch and watch them are fans. They are not Green Bay Packers. They are observers. They are not players. They do not actually participate in the game. They are not members of the team. Most would never dream of claiming that they are a Green Bay Packer or a Lion. They are fans.

However, there are a multitude of people who claim to be Christian even though they never get off the sidelines. In reality they are mere observers or fans of Jesus and not members of the team, which is the Body of Christ. Members work together as a team.

In Christ, we become one Body. But, it seems that some of the parts of the Body are missing in action. Your local congregation misses you. Jesus calls you to worship and serve the Lord as a member of the community of saints.

Members of the Body work and play as a team, with one purpose. If you would be a follower of Jesus then get off of the couch, take up your cross, and follow him, participating in a life of worship and service to God and service to one another.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Sunday, November 8, 2015


Not everyone wants to hear the truth. They will rally against Christian truth-tellers. They will accuse them of being unchristianlike. No one likes to hear that they what they do is a sin. Well, Jesus was a truth-teller. He did not condone sin as some would have us believe. He was not a pushover as some would have us think.

Remember the money changer's tables in the temple that he turned over and then drove those making a profit in God's house out of the temple with a whip? (Matt 21:12; Mark 11:15John 2:14-15) How meek and mild does that sound?

If you think your pastor or teacher are acting in a manner not befitting a Christian because they call a sin a sin; think again, please. When was the last time one of them actually told you to "get behind me Satan" because you rejected the word and will of God? (Matt 16:21-23; Mark 8:31-38) I can just imagine the reaction if I said that to someone. I confess. I am a wimp. I have thought it. I have even implied it. But, never actually had the courage to use those words (except with a person or two very close to me).

And... please, don't bother using the story of the woman who had been brought before him accused of adultery. No, he did not condemn her. But, he not only confronted her with her sins when he told her to go and sin no more; he confronted the sins of the Scribes and Pharisees when he told them that the one who was without sin should cast the first stone. No one cast that first stone. (John 8:1-11) We are all sinners. That doesn't make sin something to be ignored. Jesus did not ignore it. We ought not ignore it in ourselves or anyone else.

Jesus did not ignore sin. He was tough on sin. In fact, he was so tough on sin that he was willing to hang on that cross for us so that sin would have no power over us. (1 Cor 15:56, 57) Bearing the sins of the world; now, that takes courage! (Rom 5:7-9) Jesus was and is no pushover and he does not call his followers to be, either. He spoke the truth. He lived the truth. He is the truth.

Jesus died for our sins; that is true. St. Paul wrote to the church: "What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it?  Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? (Rom 6:1-3

May God grant that we should acknowledge our sins and live so that we might glorify his holy name.

God's Peace - Pr. J

P.S. Before one accuses another Christian of being unchristianlike in order to justify our own sins; it would behoove us to read your Bibles thoroughly so that we get to know who Jesus really was and is and not just the verses we think might justify our own actions. Justification comes only through Jesus' death on the cross for you.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Never Stop Praying

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thess 5:16-18 NRSV

There is so much to be thankful for. The reasons to rejoice never end because "we know that all things work together for good for those who love God." (Rom 8:28) Yet, we know that there among those whom we love who do not love God and so we pray without ceasing. We pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that they may be strengthened in their inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith, as they are being rooted and grounded in love. We pray that they may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that they may be filled with all the fullness of God." (Eph 3:16-19)

Because we love even those who do not love or know God, we will never stop praying for them. We will joyfully give thanks for we know that God hears our prayers and answers, according to His good will.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Friday, November 6, 2015

In The Beginning...

By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible." Hebrews 11:3 NRSV

Science has provided us with some amazing things: vaccines for diseases that may have long ago destroyed humankind; conveniences to make our lives more pleasant (even if some of them are destructive to the earth); instant communication with people around the world; the list goes on. But, science is not all-knowing. It is ever evolving. There is always something knew to learn.

When it comes to faith, science does not have the last word. God does. He has and is the last word just as He had and was the first word.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people." John 1:1-3

May God grant us all faith to live by faith in His Word, who is Jesus the Christ.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Thursday, November 5, 2015

War or Peace?

A very strange dream woke me up a bit early this morning. I dreamed that I had been standing at the window looking out over the river and suddenly black military looking went screaming by. There was not just one or two of them; but, a crowd of them; a fleet that seemed to have no end. Very strange, I thought and woke up. Of course, I had to try to figure out why I would have a dream like that. I could not discern if the dream was about war or peace. Was I dreaming it because I sense impending danger or because of a feeling of security? I do not know. Every day brings something new. The world can be a dangerous place. The news is rarely good; but, yet, there is always hope.

Military boats and ships certainly have something to do with danger; especially, to the enemy. But, they are also there to bring security to the people they are commissioned to protect. Ultimately, they are to be used to bring about security and a sense of peace.

We can never really count on the state of the world's affairs to provide us with security and peace. But, there is one whom we can trust.

Answer me when I call, O God of my right!
    You gave me room when I was in distress.
    Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.

There are many who say, “O that we might see some good!
    Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!”
You have put gladness in my heart
    more than when their grain and wine abound.
I will both lie down and sleep in peace;
    for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.
                                                      Psalm 4:1, 6-8 NRSV

God's Peace - Pr. J

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Symbol of Hope

"When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” Gen 9:16

I haven't seen a rainbow in a few months. I am human. I get tired and weary at times. Every once in awhile, I would like to see a rainbow to remind me that God is with me; to remind me of His glory.  In Ezekiel's visions of God he saw the glory of God. "Like the bow in a cloud on a rainy day, such was the appearance of the splendor all around. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord."  Ezekiel 1:28

We have many dreary days; days when we just can't see the glory of God; days when there are no rainbows. There many be no rainbows today; but, we will always have the cross. In the cross there is always hope.

May God grant you eternal hope in the victory won for you on the cross, by Jesus Christ our Lord.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Beware of the Pretentious

"Then He said to them in His teaching, “Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces,  the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts,  who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.” Mark 12:38-40

Beware of the scribes; beware of anyone who would place themselves before and above others. They are not there to help others; but, to help themselves under the pretense of helping others.

Beware of the pretentious. Those long prayers and speeches of the pretentious are there to sway you to their way of thinking and not necessarily God's way or will. Beware, that their smooth words are not swaying you to follow in a way that you should not be going in.

We are inundated with political speeches. We are inundated with biased media. What a circus it can become! Listen carefully and beware of those who place themselves before others; who think more highly of themselves than they ought. With their smooth tongues they can make what is good look like sin and what is sin look like it is a good thing. Beware of those who claim to want to help the poor and needy and; yet, get richer while the poor get poorer.

Beware of the false prophets. We have a God who will guide us in all things. Listen to Him!

God's Peace - Pr. J

Monday, November 2, 2015

I Don't Know; But, God Does

We had been planning a special service for All Saint's Day for some time. Then schedules got turned around and we couldn't do it, so I focused on something totally different than had been previously planned. At worship, yesterday, it turned out the schedules weren't as turned around as we had thought. We could have gone with our original plan; but, we didn't. I believe it went the way God intended it to go. He knows what's coming up long before we do.

Within the past week, we have had three deaths of family members from our congregation. I wrote my Sunday sermon early last Monday, focusing on the promise of eternal life in the kingdom of God with all the saints. I did not realize until I actually started preaching that what I planned was exactly what was needed as two of the deaths occurred after I wrote it. I did not realize on Monday how many would need a reminder of comfort and hope in the eternal kingdom for all who believe until I was actually preaching it and seeing the response in their faces. But, God did. He knew long before Monday.

Years ago, while I was being trained to visit shut-ins, my mentor and I were sitting in the parking lot of a bar in a very small town discussing our plan for the day. A woman, who had been using the pay phone outside, came over, introduced herself, and invited us over to visit her mother and her. Until that day, neither of us knew of her. After our scheduled visits we went over to visit them. Her mother and my mentor were busy discussing the history of the area when all of a sudden he's talking about the death of a young person in his family. I was aghast. It seemed to come out of no where. It just seemed so off the wall and we were there to bring encouragement and comfort; not to be comforted ourselves. The woman who invited us in, began to cry. She related that she was visiting her mother because her husband had just died and she was having a very difficult time with the grieving process. This pastor's story opened the way for her to be able to begin talking about it and to be reminded that all who believe; yet, even though they die, shall live with all the saints in the kingdom of God. What seemed like a very odd turn in the conversation, turned out to be exactly what was needed to bring about a bit of peace and hope for the woman. I had no clue where this pastor was going. He didn't, either. But, God knew exactly where He was leading him.

Sometimes, we just have to follow the Spirit's guidance. We don't always know for what purpose we are being called or sent. We don't always know why we feel compelled to say things that would not normally fit the circumstances. But, God does. Listen to him. Follow where He will lead you. Do not be afraid to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God!

God's Peace - Pr. J

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Thanks Be To God For All The Saints

Today is all Saints Sunday. At worship this morning we will be placing in the offering plates. as an offering of thanksgiving, the names of many who have gone before us and many who are still with us who have helped us on our journeys through this world. Some have fed us with food for our bodies while others have fed us spiritually.

Christ has worked through many to help us on our journey; to bring us closer to God; to help build up our faith by sharing the Word with us. They have and continue to give much for the sake of the Body of Christ. Some have given food and shelter. Some have fed us with the Word of God. Some have given even their whole lives for us. So, today we give thanks to God for those saints who so generously have given of their love.

St. Paul wrote: "You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God." 2 Cor 9:11-12

Indeed, let us give thanks, today and every day, for the generosity and the willingness of others to make Christ known to us.

God's Peace - Pr. J