Sunday, January 31, 2016

Proclamation: The Mission

Yes, indeed, it is all "for the Lord!"
For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, saying,
“I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters,
    in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.”
And again,
“I will put my trust in him.”
And again,
“Here am I and the children whom God has given me.”
Heb 2:11-13
Today we will gather together at our annual meeting. We will review the past year. Even as we do, may God help us to glean, from that information, insight into how best we can serve our God and all of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
As we meet this morning let us not just look back; but, forward, considering the mission which God has called us to. We are not a social club. We are a community of saints called by God to proclaim God's name and what He has done and does do for us.
"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." 1 Peter 2:9
As we plan for the future serving God and our brothers and sisters in Christ, may God help us to remember our mission. According to the mission statement we unanimously approved at an annual meeting a few years ago: Our mission is to proclaim and teach the true word of God; to nurture members in the Faith; to reach out in witness and service, ministering to the community, and to participate in God’s mission throughout the world.
May God help us to be fruitful in the mission He has called us to.
God's Peace - Pr. J

Saturday, January 30, 2016


"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." Eph 4:1-3

There are times when my patience really wants to fly out the window. It can be a struggle to be patient with those who continue to make the same mistakes over and over again and wonder why they are having such a hard time in life.

A friend of mine once warned me that I should be very careful what I asked God for because He answers our prayers and we may not like the way in which He answers them. She had warned me against asking God to give me patience. She had asked for patience in caring for her family and He had answered. He helped her to learn to be patient by refining. As things grew even more troubled in her family she learned to be patient with others even as she continued to care for and love them. She also learned to trust God in all things.

My friend has gone through a lot of trials. Yet, she is patient and kind and has an uncanny gift for maintaining unity in the bond of peace.

May we all bear one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Friday, January 29, 2016

Who Shall Serve?

But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave... (Matt 20:25-27)

We are preparing to elect the next president of the United States. As Christians, what kind of president do we want?

I watched part of the Republican Presidential Debate last night. Only part because I slept through most of it. Not because it was boring, I was tired. There are many good candidates; lots of good ideas and dreams; but, there are some pretty bad ideas, as well. History should remind us that some of those promises will not be fulfilled. They can promise all they want; but, we have a checks and balance system in our government. Just because someone who is running for president promises you something doesn't mean that it's going to happen. We need to ask ourselves, given that we have three branches to our government, not to mention a binding constitution, how realistic these promises really are. Which candidate can actually work with others best for the good of all people?

To tell you the truth, the egos of some of the Republican as well as the Democrat candidates put me off. Do we really want a narcissist as our next president? There has been at least one really good candidate who has stayed in the top of the polls; always near center stage during the debates. But, I don't hear much about him. He seems to get asked less questions during the debates and he gets a whole lot less press coverage. His name is not even usually mentioned as a front-runner by the press. The candidates in front of him and even behind him are mentioned quite often. I cannot help but wonder: what is up with that? I'm thinking it may be because he appears too gentle. He is not a bully. He actually appears, do I dare say it, "humble."

Humility in the Kingdom of God is a virtue. Narcissism is not. Pushing people around is not. Slander is not. Lying is not. Minimizing the harm done to others is not. Idolatry is not. I personally pray that God would call a humble man to this position. One who will serve, not according to his personal ambitions; but, for the sake of the country; even of the world. None are perfect. No one is. But, there are a few candidates who might fit this bill better than others. May God reveal the true natures and ideologies of all of these men and women so that voters might discern for the good of all people.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Worship In Spirit And Truth

"God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:24 NRSV)
It is not enough to be spiritual as some would say. Personal spirituality can mean a variety of things to a variety of people. It does not tell me anything concrete when someone tells me that they are spiritual. We are all spiritual beings. But, there is only one truth that leads to the Father. What I want to know is if you worship the God who is the truth. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)
All these other gods that we concoct for ourselves are not the truth. They will lead us astray. They will divert our path from "The Way." Jesus is the only "Way."
Teach us your way, O Lord, that we may walk in your truth; give us undivided hearts to revere your name. Amen (Psalm 86:11)

God's Peace - Pr. J

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Two Things I Ask

Two things I ask of you;
    do not deny them to me before I die:
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
    give me neither poverty nor riches;
    feed me with the food that I need,
or I shall be full, and deny you,
    and say, “Who is the Lord?”
or I shall be poor, and steal,
    and profane the name of my God.
Prov 30:7-9
Give us this daily bread...
God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ego Must Die

"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you." (James 4:10 NRSV)

Let that ego die! Let it die, now!

Jesus did not exalt himself on earth. He humbled himself. He was willing to even suffer death on the cross for our sakes. Why should we think that we ought to be more exalted that the one who was willing to give his life that we might live?

St. James wrote:
"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you." (James 4:8-10)

It is folly to attempt to exalt ourselves. "He (Jesus) sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, 'Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.'" (Mark 9:35)

In the end, all of our vain attempts to gain recognition for ourselves will fail us. It is only God who can lift us up. We will be lifted up by His own hand. Remember, too, that when Jesus was lifted up, he was lifted up on the cross. He was exalted through death.

Let that ego die so that you might live more fully in Christ.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Monday, January 25, 2016

Think On The One Who Is Worthy To Be Praised

"Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Phil 4:8 NRSV

If our minds stay in the gutter; we will end up living our lives in the gutter. If our minds stay focused on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, then we will live in His Kingdom. The work of our hands and every step that we take will naturally gravitate toward the things that we are focused on.

Whatever or whomever it is that we trust; that we put our faith in, that is our god. Will it be the things of this world or the one who loves us so much; the one who wants us to live in His presence so much, that He was willing to die that we might be forgiven our lustful and sinful ways and be reconciled to Him?

Jesus said, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matt 6:20)

By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit may God help us to treasure the one who is most worthy of praise, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Assist With A Spirit Of Gentleness

"My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Take care that you yourselves are not tempted."
Gal 6:1-2 NRSV

I was with a woman yesterday who is always a joy to be with. I rarely hear about her having any personal problems that she might need help with. On the other hand, she often shares with me many prayer requests for others. She not only prays for them, she personally assists those in need. She is there for the hungry, the sick, the elderly. She is there for others in personal crisis. It does not matter if the personal crisis was brought on by a transgression of the individual. She will, in a spirit of gentleness, guide them toward reconciliation. In the spirit of gentleness, she will guide them in the truth.

She is not the only one I know that is so faithful. It does my heart good to be able to witness others living out their faith lives. Way too often I hear people say things like "It's not my problem" or "It's their own fault they're in this situation." They will not only refuse to help strangers; but, their friends and family as well.

St. Paul reminds us that we are to bear one another's burdens. We are to be there for others in their time of need no matter what the need is. He cautions us; though, that we ought to be careful that we are restoring them and not allowing ourselves to be tempted to fall into the same situation the one we would help has fallen into.

May God give us the spirit of love so that we can help those who are in need. May He give us the spirit of gentleness so that we can minister to those who are in trouble because they have taken the wrong path.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Saturday, January 23, 2016


"If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you." James 1:5 NRSV

Every now and then, as I attempt to fix the things that I cannot fix, I am reminded of the serenity prayer that was written by Reinhold Niebuhr.       
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

It is difficult to watch others suffer. Sometimes we can help them. Sometimes, we cannot do anything except to pray for them. Sometimes, we lack the wisdom to know the difference so we go about spinning our wheels trying to fix that which only God can fix.

Wisdom will help us to determine what we can and should change and what we must trust to God alone. When God gives us the knowledge and the wisdom of how we are to proceed, it would be very wise indeed to follow His directions. Ignoring what God has taught or told you (whether directly or through others) is definitely not wise.

May God grant us all the wisdom to listen to Him and the courage to do what He asks of us and go where He would send us.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Friday, January 22, 2016

It Will Be Given You

"Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened." Matt 7:7-8 NRSV

This morning I would really like the Lord to produce a couple of sermons for me. It would be good if I didn't have to focus on writing them; but, that's not how it works. God is not going to send it directly to my printer. I must do some listening, some searching, in order to know what He would have me say at Carol's funeral tomorrow and at worship on Sunday.

God does, indeed, gift us good gifts without our asking. He gave us His only begotten Son without our asking; without our even realizing that we needed him. But, sometimes we must ask in order to for us to be open to hear His word and His will for us. It's not a matter of God not giving them to us freely. It's a matter of whether we are willing to receive them or not.

The older I get, the more I realize that in order to know and do God's will I have to practice the presence of God so that I can hear Him. I have to actively seek Him because my human nature would shut Him out as I attempt to go it alone, without Him. This, I have found, is not a very wise idea. Of course, God is always with me; but, there are times I shut the door on Him and do not listen; do not hear His word or His will. Without Him, I can do nothing good. But, with Him all things are possible.

Search His word and you will find His good will for you and for all people.

"For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Thess 2:14

God's Peace - Pr. J

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Ridiculousness Is Not Joy

There is a television show called "Ridiculousness." It's apparently a hit since it has been running for a few years. I find it most ridiculous. I do not find watching people get hurt very funny. When a child falls down trying to ride their bike, it is cruel to laugh. When someone slips on the ice and falls, it is disrespectful to laugh.
I have nothing against laughing. But, as the Preacher wrote in Ecclesiastes 3:4: There is "a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance." Laughter comes with joy. Joy comes from goodness. It comes from the goodness of God. God shows us the path of life. In his presence there is fullness of joy; in his right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Prov 16:11)
On the other hand, to ridicule means to make fun of or, in more contemporary terms, to bully someone. Ridiculing someone else or yourself is not a Christian virtue. I know that it's 2016 and times have changed. But, I'm thinking that they probably haven't changed for the better when watching people get hurt or hurt themselves is suppose to be humorous entertainment.
God loves you. Love yourself. Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself. Please, don't sully that love with hurtful ridiculousness to either yourself or anyone else. Hurtfulness is not funny. It is folly. "Folly is a joy to one who has no sense, but a person of understanding walks straight ahead." (Prov 15:21)  That is, we walk straight ahead into a more glorious future when we walk in The Way of the Lord. That is where you will find real joy!
"There is a time to weep; and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a dance." May God grant us the wisdom to discern the times.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Enjoy Life With Your Wife!

"Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that are given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun."  Eccl 9:9

Nearing the end of my vacation with my husband, I wanted to cook out. I had planned to cook bratwursts over an open fire with marshmallows for desert. I did not realize that some NFL play-offs were on television at the same when I had suggested it. My husband did not say a thing about it. I figured it out when I went outside to see how the fire was going and he was standing before the fire pit checking the game on his telephone. He was multi-tasking. He managed both quite well. He managed to hang in there until supper was over before he retreated to the living room.

We have many common interests. But, we also have many uncommon interests. He enjoys football. I do not. I enjoy hiking and camping and kayaking. He does not. But, somehow we manage to find a way to enjoy life together.

May God bless all husbands and wives with the gift of enjoying life together.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Gentle Tongues Promote Life

I know that I have been guilty of having spoken wrongly or too quickly on more than one occasion resulting hurting the spirit of others.  However, I usually realize I have done so as soon as I've done it and can attempt to rectify it or at least apologize.

I have difficulty understanding why some people do not understand how badly they have hurt someone with their witty comments. Maybe don't realize how damaging their tongues can be to the spirits; the lives of the ones who bear the brunt of their wit. Sarcasm really is not that funny. It is hurtful. Intentional sarcasm breaks the spirit.

May God help us to speak with gentle tongues that we will do no harm to the spirits of others.

God Peace - Pr. J

Monday, January 18, 2016

Center In Christ

"No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it." 1 Cor 10:13 NRSV

My grandchildren have a flair for the dramatic.  At a vacation home we stayed at last week the book by Richard Carlson, "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff... and it's all small stuff" was on the library shelf. When my eldest granddaughter left the room I placed it on her chair and then left the room myself. She got the point when she saw it.

Many of the young people that I know have a tendency to get excited over little stuff. Yes, I know that some of these things can be quite unsettling for someone who does not have the experience behind them to understand that when there is a crisis it will actually pass. In years to come they will be able to look back and see how the crises actually strengthened them; how these crises, big and small, helped them to grow.

It might be difficult to accomplish; but, we ought not let these crises disrupt our peace to the point that we are non-functional or allow our drama to infringe upon the lives of everyone around us. Do not let the crisis become the center of your life. If Christ remains at the center, he will center you.

Don't sweat the small stuff. With God it is all small stuff.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Rejoice And Be Glad!

    For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad
    and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
    and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,

    was given her to wear."
                                          Rev 19:6b-8

We have a lot to rejoice in. St. John exiled on Patmos for his faith did not give up hope. St. Paul did not give up hope. The many saints before us never gave up hope. They looked to the day when they would be reconciled to God our Father and our Lord Jesus the Christ in the home that Christ prepared for us.

Life can be pretty confusing and tough at times. In times like those, remember, that today will pass and tomorrow will come whether we are here in this world or in the Kingdom prepared for us. For all who believe in Jesus and his gifts of forgiveness and salvation for us, life will go on. It is eternal.

By the blood of Jesus we have been reconciled to God and one another even now. So, rejoice and be glad and give God the glory! Give God the glory in all that you say and think and do. Whatever you do, do it as if to the Lord.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Rest For The Weary

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest."
Matt 11:28 NRSV
Jobless, homeless, hungry, and cold: that is the state of a lot of Americans. So many are weary of struggling to survive from day to day. We live in a country of some pretty big extremes. It amazes me when the political upper class speak like people earning $50,000 a year are poor. In 2012, the National Center for Law and Justice estimated that one out of sixteen people were living in deep poverty; that is they lived with income 50% below the poverty line. Imagine living like that! Those who live in deep poverty will never see this blog. They do not have access to computers or the internet. Just maybe our elected officials make so much money they have lost touch with the reality of what kind of struggles many Americans actually live with. $50,000. a year is not poor. One can feed and clothe and shelter their families on $50,000 a year.
Personally, I get weary of people who have I-Phones and I-Pods; have more bedrooms than children; and, take vacations two or three times a year complaining that they don't make fair wages or are broke. We need to remember that we are representatives of Christ. He calls us, even as he called Peter to feed his sheep.
May God help all of his representatives to feed his sheep; to help carry the burdens of others so that they might find rest. The followers and representatives of Jesus the Christ must step up and do this as it seems quite apparent that our elected representatives don't have much of a clue as how to do this.

Pr. J

Friday, January 15, 2016

Do In Remembrance

Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19 NRSV

These words imprinted on the front of the altar at Zion sometimes causes me to wonder. I wonder if everyone realize that this is more than a remembrance ritual or a memorial service. I wonder if everyone who eats of his body and drinks of his blood realize that they are actually receiving the body of Christ into themselves.

He comes to abide in us through this Sacrament. As we eat and drink we become one in and with the living Christ.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Money Pot

He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep." (John 21:17)

I may not thrill a lot of people with today's blog; but, I am still trying to figure out this whole madness over the powerball lottery thing. I am amazed at how much money can be gathered from people who are willing to gamble on becoming rich beyond their dreams. When I listen to what some would do with the money, I cannot help but wonder how long it would be before they would be filing for bankruptcy. I also wonder how many really destitute that amount of money could feed or clothe or shelter. Maybe at least half of the proceeds from each of these lotteries could go toward shelters for the homeless? I mean, who really needs a billion dollars? Seems like a lot for one or two people to manage who have no experience managing even hundreds of thousands.

There are real people who are really destitute in this country. They cannot afford to buy powerball tickets. They use what pennies they have to try to feed themselves. Using the profit from lotteries for the betterment of society has been, in fact, attempted. It doesn't seem to have worked too well. Years ago, when Michigan was pushing for a lottery, funding the school system from the lottery was a priority that was being touted. The schools in Michigan are still in a pretty bad financial state and so are our roads. Gambling no matter in what form brings about many problems along with the benefits it might bring to a few.

We cannot let money manage us. It is up to us as individuals, businesses, and governments to manage money for the betterment of all. I live near the first Indian Casino that was ever opened in this country. To their credit, the tribe has learned to manage their earnings to benefit the whole community, both Native Americans and non-Native. However, not all individuals who frequent the casino have learned what it means to manage their money.

There is a lot of hope placed in the chance of winning by some who play the lotteries. It benefits a few; but, has the potential of doing great damage to others.  

Many of my friends and family members gamble. For the most part they are not extravagant in their placing their bets. Although, I have worried about at least a few of them. Personally, I do not find gambling a good stewardship model for me. I could throw the money in the pot to make someone else a million or billionaire or I could throw it in a pot and feed a hungry person.

"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains." 1 Timothy 6:10

God's Peace - Pr. J

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Ambassadors For Christ

Leslie is one of our many faithful
ambassador's of Christ at Zion. I
give thanks for his service to God
and for representing Christ
no matter where he is.
"So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." 2 Corinth 5:20

What exactly does it mean to be an ambassador of Christ? How are we to represent him?
While I served as a chaplain at a juvenile correction facility, I often asked the question of the young men, who purported to be Christian, if they were going to continue to represent their old gangs or if they would represent Jesus. I recall a story one young man shared about how he had become involved in a gang fight outside of a church. He and his friend had worn their colors to worship as did a couple of rival gang members. Imagine that! They all belonged to the same congregation. After he told the story, and hearing it spoken aloud himself, he realized how fully he had put his gang affiliation before God and before the family of God. He had been practicing idolatry in a house of worship. He had been blatantly representing his gang rather than Jesus in the church of Jesus Christ.
Most of us are a little more cautious about our conduct inside of a church building. We want to look and act like representatives of Christ within the context of a congregation. But, what about outside the church building? The Church is; after all, not a building. Who or what are we ambassadors for when we go out into the world?
May God help us to be more aware of our call to be ambassadors of Christ, proclaiming the Good News of his Kingdom for all who would believe in him.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Live in the Light

"Arise, shine; for your light has come,    and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you."
Isaiah 60:1

There are some days when the day is over I feel as though nothing was accomplished; like an entire day has been wasted. I may be up and about; but, I feel like I may as well have been sleeping the day away. This doing nothing is a bad habit to get in to. Before we know it our days on earth will have come to an end and we will have spent them as though we were asleep.

Get up! Live life! Let the light of Christ shine on, in, and through you. Live the fleeting moments that God has given us here on earth. He gave them for a purpose and living in the darkness was not it.

Have a blessed day!

God's Peace - Pr. J

Monday, January 11, 2016

From The Rising To the Setting of The Sun; Praise The Lord!

Sunset: Beaufort, SC
"Praise the Lord!
Praise, O servants of the Lord;
    praise the name of the Lord.
Blessed be the name of the Lord
    from this time on and forevermore.
From the rising of the sun to its setting
    the name of the Lord is to be praised.
The Lord is high above all nations,
    and his glory above the heavens."
Psalm 113:1-4 NRSV
What else is there to say; but, in everything praise the Lord? God has made all things wonderful. He is with us not just from the rising of the sun to its setting; but, from its setting to its rising as well. He is with us always; in the good times and in those times that seem not so good to us. God is with us and His intentions are for our good. May God open our ears to hear His good will for us and "Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!" (Psalm 150:6)
God's Peace - Pr. J

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Grief with Hope

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." Matt 5:4
This morning, I grieve. The family at Zion Lutheran lost two very special ladies on Friday. They were both very gentle and kind; but, also very strong. Both Eunice and Carol were strong in Lord, in their faith.

It is difficult to lose someone you love. It is natural to grieve. Yet our grief is not without hope. St. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians: "And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died." 1 Thess 4:13-14

I am grateful for the opportunity to have known both of these women. It brings me peace to know that even as Christ rose from the dead and lives, so shall all who believe in him.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Saturday, January 9, 2016


"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matt 6:19-21 NRSV 

Where do you invest your time; your talents; all the gifts that God has given you? Do you enjoy those gifts? There is only one place where you will find real joy. That place is in relationship with Jesus Christ and with others around you. Some things are necessary: food, shelter, heat, clothing. Others things are not. They are luxuries. They can be excess baggage that steal away our time and our opportunity to be in caring and loving relationships. 

The greatest treasure of God is being able to live in relationship with God and our brothers and sisters in Christ in the Kingdom of God. May God help us to seek His Kingdom that we might know what a treasure living in His presence really is.

God's Peace - Pr. J 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Quit Cursing, Please!

"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Eph 5:1-2

Children learn by what they see and hear. One teaching method I have noticed, too often, is adults correcting children for swearing by mixing their very loud admonitions with a bunch of swear words. Sure doesn't sound too loving to me and I'm thinking that particular teaching method probably does not work all that well.

Some of the nicest people I know throw that f... word along with other off-colored slang randomly into their speech. I don't get it! Doesn't sound very Christ-like to me. Can you imagine Jesus using words like that? I can't.

During confirmation classes, I have tried to explain what curse or swear words are. There are many words that are so commonly used by the culture around them that some of the young people have had no clue that some of the words that they use daily are totally inappropriate to be using. Many of these words actually take God's name in vain. Using vulgarity shows disrespect not only toward others; but, to the person using them as well.

We are sinful human beings and prone to slipping from time to time. But, life here in this would be so much more loving and peaceful if we could all be more Christian examples to children or to anyone around us. Maybe we could all work a little harder to erase a few of these curse words from our vocabularies and ultimately our cultures. Let us be imitators of Christ so that as our children learn from what we say and do; they too will learn to live more Christ-like.

May God help us to live in love, without using language to belittle or hurt others; rather, using language that will express our walk of faith in Jesus Christ.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Our Father's Children

What does it take to be a child of God?

Usually, I take people at their word. I have a habit of believing people when they tell me that they are members of another denomination or congregation. I have a habit of believing people when they tell me that they are Christians. So often, I neglect to witness to them, because I believe them. The question, I ponder this morning, is if they know what it means to be a member of the family of God.

We do not enter into this family just because our parents or their parents belonged to the Body of Christ or any particular congregation. We are not born in the natural way into the family of God. We are adopted into God's family. In order for us to be adopted into God's family there was a price; a much greater price than we have to pay to adopt a child in today's society. The purchase price for our adoption was not silver or gold. The blood of God's only begotten Son paid the ultimate price for our adoption into His family.

Our DNA; our bloodlines, connects and confirms our earthly families; but, the blood of Christ makes us children of the most High God. We do not enter God's family by any goodness of our own. We do not enter God's family because of any earthly connections we might have. We enter by the virtue of the one who gave himself for us; that we might be reconciled to our Father in heaven for all of eternity. There is only way to become a child of God. There is only one way to the Father. That way is through Jesus the Christ.

There is more to being a Christian than just saying that you are one. By the power of the Holy Spirit, may God grant you faith in the one who died that all might live as children of the most High God.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Welcoming Strangers To The Table

And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Luke 15:2

I grew up in an area steeped in the Finnish-American culture. Finns like to feed people. One never went for coffee anywhere without having the table heaped with goodies, if not a full meal. My mother was an awesome hostess. She was a great cook. She often invited friends and strangers into our home. She and my dad would meet strangers as they wandered the countryside. She would invite them to come and visit. When they came, she would welcome them like they were royalty.

Whenever I travel, I try to find a place to worship; a house of God where my brothers and sisters in Christ will welcome me as well as all strangers. There is usually a multitude of choices. Maybe because of the culture I grew up in, I am acutely aware of whether or not I am really welcome to eat at the Lord's Table. Many congregations do not provide this meal to nourish the traveler or stranger. Others make it painfully obvious that strangers are not welcome at their table. They appear to be afraid that our sins are too great to allow us to partake of the food which will nourish our souls. They would keep us from the very Body of Christ that was given for our salvation.

May God help us to welcome both neighbor and stranger to receive the good gifts that God has provided us in His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Monday, January 4, 2016

Bless Those Who Curse You

“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you." Luke 6:27-28 NRSV

I spent Christmas day driving. I left home about 8 a.m. and by 5 p.m. I had reached the southern portion of lower Michigan on my way to South Carolina. I was hungry and needed to gas up the truck. The only things I had eaten all day were sunflower seeds and pears. I found a gas station and asked the man at the counter if anything in town was open so that I could get something to eat. He said no. I bought a "Slim Jim" and a "Coca Cola" for supper. While I was paying for my "supper," the man was mumbling under his breath something about a woman running around looking for someplace to eat when she should be home cooking for her children. There was no one else in the gas station for him to be talking to; so, I was quite aware that the mumbling was solely for my benefit. Maybe, he was just having a bad day. Maybe, he was upset because he was working and not spending the day with his own family. But, it was a good reminder to me not to be judging people that you know nothing about. How could he know that I would be driving for two days to see my family? How could he know that my children were grown and have families of their own?  Rather than react negatively to his ramblings, I smiled and made sure I said "Merry Christmas" a multitude of times before I left. I prayed that God would bless him by opening his eyes and heart as I continued on my way.

The best way to react to those who would judge or hate you is to bless them and pray for them. Only God can change their hearts.

God's Peace - Pr. J

P.S. The man at the toll booth at the Mackinac Bridge was awesome! His Christmas greeting was so friendly and joyous in spite of the fact that he was working on Christmas day. He was handing out candy canes to those who were crossing the bridge. A little gift like that was a huge gift for me on Christmas Day!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Communion; A Gift From God

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes." 1 Cor 11:23-26 NRSV

It is Sunday morning and I am not leading worship today. I am on vacation. But, I will be worshipping with a small community of saints. Christmas Eve was the last time I received the Sacrament of Holy Communion. I have attended worship since and heard the word; but, there was no Communion offered or received. Over the years, I have found that I need to receive this gift often. Life just seems to go better for me (and everyone around me) when I receive the Lord's body and blood into mine; when I receive this means of grace.

I am a sinner not worthy to come before the Lord let alone to abide in him. Yet, I am able because of his shedding of his blood for me and for all people. It is a gift from God. Who, in their right minds, would turn down the opportunity to receive the Word and Sacrament, the means that God uses to impart His grace to us? So today, I will be attending an LCMS mission congregation, Faith Lutheran in Beaufort, SC so that I might be fed with both Word and Sacrament.

I pray that everyone reading this today is planning on worshipping with their local congregation, as well!

God's Peace - Pr. J

Saturday, January 2, 2016

New Day

"So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!" 2 Cor 5:17 NRSV

Who doesn't need start fresh every now and then? 2015 is behind us. A whole new day; a whole new year is before us.

We all make mistakes. We all sin. We all hurt others wittingly and unwittingly. We often carry this baggage with us. Guilty consciences often affect our relationships with God and with one another. In spite of the fact that we know that God forgives us all of our sins; sometimes, we have a difficult time forgiving ourselves.  Today is a new day. Receive the forgiveness that Christ so willing purchased for you on the cross that you might be reconciled to God and to one another. Let not this gift given at the cost of Jesus' blood be given in vain. Receive it! Rejoice! For in Christ, everything, including you, has become new.

God's Peace - Pr. J


Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year Thanksgiving

Another year has come and gone. My husband and I have taken to celebrating New Year's Eve with our son, John, and his wife, Jessica at a fund-raiser ball for Jessica in Beaufort, SC. Jessica has cystic fibrosis and received a double lung transplant during the fall of 2014. That does not mean that the cystic fibrosis has gone away. But, now she can breathe again, at least for a few more years, without being connected to an oxygen tank. Cystic fibrosis, itself, is not curable. She will be under her doctors' watchful eyes and on medications for the rest of her life. The co-pays for the medications and hospital visits are astronomical. They cost more a month than many people that I know earn per month. Thus, the fund-raiser.

The first successful double lung transplant occurred in 1986. Modern medicine is amazing. Human kind is always striving to better the lives of those who suffer. God gives to each of us gifts. I give thanks this new year that God has given to so many the gift of healing through knowledge (another gift) of modern medicine. I give thanks for the many caring and generous people who have helped Jessica on her journey.

May God bless us, this year, with even more knowledge and advancements in the various sciences so that there might be found a cure for the many incurable diseases that presently exist.

God's Peace - Pr. J

If you'd like to know more about Jessica go to