Pastors' Blog

Powerful Impact

Your faith in Jesus as your Savior has a powerful impact on your life. You live in the confidence of knowing that your sins are forgiven and that you will live in heaven. You live with the certainty that God is working for good in all that happens in your life.

Your faith in Jesus also changes how you live. You are no longer a slave to sin or your selfish impulses. God called you to “live a holy life” when he brought you to faith in Jesus. God has opened your eyes to the joy of serving others. The love of Jesus lives in your and motivates you to actively look for ways to do good.

There are all sorts of ways we can do good. The circumstances of your life may be different from what others are facing, but God has given you opportunities to “live a holy life” by serving the people around you. Keep your eyes open to the work God has called you to do. Seize those moments with the joy of knowing that you are serving God when you serve others!

1 Thessalonians 4:7 (NIV) "For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life."

Pastor Wempner

Pastor Zarling

 



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Our Status as God's People is What Gives Life Value

It is easy to be “overawed” by what some people have accomplished and acquired in life. We see the rich and famous and are tempted to envy what they have, thinking our life would be better if we too had those things.

In the verses below, the Psalmist reminds us just how worthless the things of this world are. Wealth, power, or fame cannot save a person. Only through faith in Jesus Christ are we made into God’s children. Our status as God’s people is what gives life value and purpose.

All around you is the temptation to be “overawed” by what the people of this world have. Instead, look to the promises of God and see just how much you have! Look to Jesus and see God’s love for you that will never end. And with your eyes focused on Jesus, live your life in the quiet peace of knowing that you are blessed in ways beyond understanding.

Psalm 49:15–20 (NIV) "But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself. Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendor of his house increases; for he will take nothing with him when he dies, his splendor will not descend with him. Though while he lived he counted himself blessed—and men praise you when you prosper—he will join the generation of his fathers, who will never see the light of life. A man who has riches without understanding is like the beasts that perish."

Pastor Wempner

Pastor Zarling



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A New Perspective

Faith in Jesus Christ gives the believer a new perspective on life. In the verses of Psalm 105 below, the Psalmist saw reasons to give thanks and to rejoice. Was that because the believer does not have troubles? Of course not!

The Psalmist saw the glory of God’s holy name in God’s grace to his people. He saw a God who loved and saved his people! God has not left you to face the world and all its troubles alone. God has saved you. He has brought you into his family and into the eternal joys of knowing his love. Because of Jesus, nothing can separate you from God!

Look at the world through the eyes of faith and you will see reasons to rejoice. You will see that you have strength – strength that comes from the Lord himself. Focus on God and let that set your perspective on life.

Psalm 105:1–4 (NIV) "Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always."

Pastor Wempner

Pastor Zarling



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Walk in Love

Christianity is not an academic exercise. God is practical in all that he teaches us. He would have us live in the peace knowing his love. He would also have us put love into practice in all that we do.

In 2 John 6 we read: "This is love: that we walk according to his commands. This is the command as you have heard it from the beginning: that you walk in love."

On the one hand, we only passively receive blessings from God. Jesus did everything to save us! Because of him we are freed from the guilt of our sins and live at peace with God.

On the other hand, God's call to faith is not a call to be passive. We are not consumers of Christianity, but active participants in God’s work. God has set us free from sin so that we can selflessly serve others. The love you show in your life is a reflection of the love of Christ for you.

Committing yourself to growing in God’s Word is very valuable. It is also valuable to look for ways to “walk in love.”

Don’t let your faith be just about knowledge. “Walk in love” even when it is difficult; even when you disagree with someone. Jesus has set you on a higher path than following the ways of the world and your sinful instincts. He has made you his child by his death and resurrection. Live with that peace and be guided by that peace.

Pastor Wempner

Pastor Zarling



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Find Satisfaction

Humanity is easily distracted. The things we think are important are usually just things. We often spend our time doing things that don’t last. And all the while, the most important matters are often neglected.

The book of Ecclesiastes was written to a world of people (including Christians) who get distracted. The reoccurring word is “meaningless.” Possessions are meaningless; pleasure is meaningless; work is meaningless. In fact:
“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless
Everything is meaningless!”


Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes, makes this grim conclusion because no matter what one accomplishes or acquires, death looms. Even before death arrives, Solomon realized that for every moment of success there are painful times of failure and trouble.

A major point that Solomon teaches in Ecclesiastes is contentment. Be content with your place in life. Find satisfaction now. Don’t imagine that you need more things or accomplishments to enjoy life; God may not allow you to achieve more or get more. So learn to be content and find satisfaction in your life.

The book builds up to the final verses. After lamenting the meaninglessness of life, Solomon says (12:13):
Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.


The solution to a meaningless life is to trust God and to obey his will. In this is a meaningful life! Regardless of your place or your work, a meaningful life is a life that focuses on God and avoids the foolish distractions of the world.

Take the time to read Ecclesiastes this week. The pointed observations of Solomon will help you to focus on what is really important.

 

Pastor Wempner

Pastor Zarling



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You Have It All!

You Have It All! "The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness. He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure." Isaiah 33:5–6 (NIV)

Who wouldn’t want what Isaiah describes? We can be filled “with justice and righteousness.” We can have a “sure foundation for our times.” God offers a “rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge.”

In these evil times, when sin controls our culture, “justice and righteousness” sound pretty appealing. With the economic uncertainty–that is about the only certainty these days–a “sure foundation” is just what we need. Faced with a multitude of difficult choices and decisions, “a rich store of . . . wisdom and knowledge” would be most welcome. Add in some guilt for problems that are clearly of our own making, bad habits (that we know we should break), situations in life that we cannot control and do not like, and people around us who are equally as sinful as we are. This toxic mess that surrounds us makes what Isaiah speaks of seem like an impossibly idealistic dream.

But Isaiah was not speaking about idealism. “The fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.” Faith in your Savior-God connects you to these treasures. You have been set free from the grip of sin. Jesus’ death on the cross isn’t just a Sunday School story, but it is the source of your hope and the “sure foundation” of your life. God is fully appeased. Your sin is gone. Now, by faith in Jesus, all that God does for you is for your eternal good–punishment from God is impossible for those who trust in Jesus.

Why are worship, Bible Class, and reading your Bible so important? Why remember your Baptism and receive the Lord’s Supper? These connect you to God’s treasures. These build you up in your faith so that the evil of this world doesn’t control you, but you are made strong to do and endure God’s will. The message of the gospel, that fills the Bible and is the source of strength for the sacraments, is what we need to grow in faith.

God provides what all Christians want! He freely pours out treasures into the lives of his people. These spiritual treasures are of far greater value than anything we could own. Grow in the treasures that God gives as you hear his Word and receive the Sacrament. Let these treasures control your thinking and life, not the fears you have of the future. You have hope because you have access to the greatest treasure the world has ever known.

 

Pastor Timothy Wempner



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Let Your Spirit Be Refreshed

It often seems like our lives are too busy; work, school, athletic practices, events at church, events with family, meetings, the list could go on and on. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day activities of life and lose sight of the fact that we need rest. Summer is often a time when people are able to take a little bit of time off for rest and relaxation. The long evenings are a time to unwind and enjoy life.

Jesus faced the same daily rush during his earthly ministry. There were crowds of people who heard of the miracles he was performing and wanted to see him. Everywhere he went, it seemed like the crowds of people were right there as well. Jesus felt the need to take some time with his close friends to rest. This summer, try to take some time to go to a quiet place and rest with your Savior. Enjoy the beauty of God’s glorious creation. Read, study, and meditate on the Word of God. Let your spirits be refreshed by the love that our God showers on us.

"He said to them, 'Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.'” Mark 6:31 (NIV)

 

Pastor Wempner

Pastor Zarling



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Our Identity as God's Children

The year is 1755.
In North America, the French and Indian war is at full boil. A member of the British army, surgeon Richard Shuckburgh, watches annoyingly as contingents of Colonial militia show up to aid the Crown. In his eyes these ‘Yankees’ aren’t worth very much - they are disorderly, disheveled, lacking in military training and etiquette. In fact, Dr. Shuckburgh sees them as a joke - especially when compared to their British counterparts. The joke is so funny, that he decides to write a song about it.
And thus, Yankee Doodle Dandy is born.
Today we think of Yankee Doodle as the quintessential American song (it’s certainly the oldest American song). But we often forget that it was originally written to make fun of us. A ‘doodle’ means an idiot. A ‘dandy’ is a man who spends too much time and attention on his clothes. So the phrase ‘Yankee doodle dandy’ means ‘stupid, low class American who sticks a feather in his cap and thinks it high class fashion.” And the joke stuck - the British loved the song and sang it throughout the French and Indian War.
But then something changed.
The Yankees had had enough. The Yankees wanted a country of their own. The Yankees embraced their identity and stood together. And then, the funniest thing happened: we started singing the song back to them. We sang it in defiance. We sang it as a badge of honor of who we were. And so Yankee Doodle Dandy became the fight song of the Revolutionary War.
I’ll bet Dr. Shuckburgh didn’t see that coming.
Brothers and sisters, we live in a world that doesn’t like us very much. It persecutes us, mocks us, belittles us. Which is what Jesus told us would happen “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33) They’ve always called us names. From calling us “God eaters” in ancient Rome to labeling us insensitive “Bible heads” today.
But by the grace of God we know who we are. We embrace our identity as God’s children. We stand together ready to hold out the Word of Life. And we look forward to a country of our own, the heavenly home that Jesus has won for us. We are the people of God, and we delight in serving HIM - no matter what persecutions come our way.
The year is 2022, and the Gospel still marches forth, unstoppable as ever.

Pastor Joshua Zarling



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Aim High

The Bible encourages Christians to “aim high.” Baptized into Christ, you are connected to his death and resurrection. You are set free from sin’s control. Already today, God considers you his eternal child who is prepared to live in heaven.

This extraordinary grace of God does not inspire the Christian fit in with the world. While we are not perfect, we are not satisfied with letting our sinful nature control how we speak, act, or think.

As Paul states in the verse below, we have been called to noble, right, pure, lovely, and excellent things. We serve the true and living God – the God who died to save us. Our lives witness to his love for us.

Brothers and sisters, grow into Christ as you hear his Word and receive the Lord’s Supper. Remember the blessings of your baptism – even if you do not remember actual event of your baptism. As that grace of God lives in your heart and gives you the peace of knowing that you are saved, make it your goal to live as God’s holy child in all you do.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:8–9

Pastor Wempner

Pastor Zarling



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Waiting Out the Storms of Life

To this day I can almost taste the most memorable slice of carrot cake I've ever had. It was delicious - the frosting was everything you'd want to be. The cake was moist yet firm, with just the right amount of sweetness. Delicious.

But I'd be lying to you if I now claimed that what made this piece of carrot cake so memorable was how it tasted. It actually had nothing to do with taste. It had to do with where I was eating it and what was going on. You see this memorable piece of cake had not been served to me at a birthday party, it was not handed to me on our fine Christmas china. I was not eating it at a church potluck surrounded by friends and cheerful grown-ups. This particular piece of carrot cake (which I can still almost taste) was served to me in our basement, while my entire family, plus my Aunt and Uncle, sat on the cold pavement. No one was particularly happy - in fact, no one paid much attention to the cake at all. Everyone was listening to the radio and wind.

Now you see dear friends, what made this piece of carrot cake so memorable to me - it was not the taste, it was the fact that I ate it on the night the Tornado came.

A tornado had touched down in our area, and we were downstairs waiting it out, praying it wouldn't come near the house (it didn't). So we sat. Waiting and listening. As we listened the storm seemed to ebb and flow in its intensity - sometimes it seemed to be over, hissing out its last breath, only to roar up anew with greater energy. So I sat there munching my carrot cake, waiting for the storm to end.

And sometimes we all feel the same way. The phrase 'storms of life' is popular for a reason. Not necessarily tornadoes, but all the things that happen around us and to us, all the things we see when we turn on our TVs or when we listen to the radio can sure feel like a storm. A huge storm, swirling up around us, dwarfing us. And sometimes life just becomes us trying to wait it out.

But brothers and sisters, all I had to occupy my time that night of the Tornado was a piece of carrot cake. However, God in his love has given us something much better to chew on during our current storms. He's given us his precious Word and unstoppable promises. He has reminded us time and again that though the storms of life seem strong, they are nowhere near as strong as Him. And more than anything, in His Word He has assured us again and again that nothing - no physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, national, or international danger can take us out His hands. He is stronger than all and he loves us dearly.

So we wait out the storms, knowing that our God will get us through. That's not such a bad place to be after all.

Pastor Joshua Zarling



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Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. ~ 1 PETER 3:8