Pastor's Blog

February 2020

I Need Lent

I need Lent. I suspect that I am not alone in that.

Lent brings a clarity to my life that I need. As days, weeks, and months pass by, I unintentionally fall into ruts. Some of these habits are helpful; but not all of them. I get very accustomed to me – to the way that I do things. In the process, I develop blind spots.

And then comes Ash Wednesday. The service begins with a confession of sins that I need. It addresses the open sins that occur as well as the subtle sins that happen in my life. It speaks of the bad things I did, but also of the good things that I did not do. These moments of reflection and confession help me to see the dangerous ruts that I too often accept. I need to hear, “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (That is where Ash Wednesday gets its name – because of sin, each of us in a collision course with death.)

The announcement of forgiveness for our sins could not be sweeter to hear than after a detailed confession of sins. As the Ash Wednesday service circles back again and again to Jesus’ death as payment for our sins I grow in peace and joy. Because of Christ, each of us is restored to be God’s child! The Lord’s Supper on Ash Wednesday is what I need. Jesus gives me himself for the forgiveness of my sins. (Giving the Sacrament on a Wednesday afternoon or evening may make the service a bit longer, but the time is well worth it. Jesus is giving sinners exactly what they need. I am thrilled for the time it takes as each of us communes with our Lord!)

After Ash Wednesday, the midweek services turn their focus to the suffering and death of Jesus. The familiar Passion story is the greatest story ever told. It is the story of God saving us by dying for us. The sermons direct us to that victory and offer further assurance of our status as God’s people. 

As I focus on Jesus’ suffering and death, God brings clarity to my life. I see my purpose as his servant. You have that same purpose. You might have a different role than I do, but you are also a servant of Jesus. Knowing that he has set you free from sin will make you more eager to use your time and your gifts for the good of God’s kingdom.

But the best part of Lent is how it ends. The message of Holy Week, every moment of it, is what my faith needs. By the end of Holy Week, we will gather for the greatest celebration we have every year. Jesus rose from the dead! The significance of that cannot be overstated. Jesus’ resurrection assures us of life – now and forever!

As a recall my sins and hear of Jesus’ forgiveness and as I walk toward the cross of Jesus and celebrate his resurrection, I find renewed clarity and purpose. I need that. And although it hurts to see and confess my sins, I need that too.

I understand that life is busy, and you have many things to do with your time. I also know that sometimes you have too many things to do and cannot get it all done. But the extra time for worship in Lent is worth it! If something must go undone, do not let it be time with your Savior. Time in God’s Word will benefit the rest of your days. Growing into Christ will give you renewed strength for service and renewed faith to endure. 

“Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.” (Psalm 86:11-13 NIV 1984)

We thank Pastor Timothy Wempner of Good Shepherd's for sharing this week's blog.



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Time Not Wasted

Time Not Wasted: Do you ever feel like you’re wasting time? Like your life is going by without you accomplishing what you need to accomplish? Like you’re getting older, and time is running out for you to achieve your purpose? I do. Then a Christian friend reminded me of a hard truth: When I feel like I’m wasting time and not accomplishing what I want to, it’s because I’m focused on my own selfish ambitions. My sinful nature wants to be great and praised and applauded. Yours too? Is that why it feels like we’re wasting time?

God has a different purpose for our lives: “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). The purpose of every human life is to give glory to our God for his grace to us in Jesus. Giving glory to God has nothing to do with my accomplishments or my position in life. No matter what situation God has placed you in right now, you’re not wasting time. Your life isn’t based on all the great things you could be doing. It’s based on God’s love for us in Jesus. So here’s your purpose for today: “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

We thank Pastor Nathan Nass and https://www.breadforbeggars.com/ for this week's blog. 

 



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God Values Truth

God Values Truth: Truth seems irrelevant in our society today. With so many different spins and stories and “versions” of the truth, is it even worth it to try to find the real truth?

God thinks so. God values truth, and God values the person who seeks and speaks the truth from his Word. Here’s how David put it in Psalm 15:

“1 Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? 2 He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart 3 and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, 4 who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the Lord, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, 5 who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.” (Psalm 15 NIV)

In a world where truth seems irrelevant, may God lead us to speak his truth, even when it hurts. With Jesus’ strength, you will never be shaken.

We thank Pastor Nathan Nass and https://www.breadforbeggars.com/ for this week's blog. 

 



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Predictions

Predictions: Around this time last year in my January newsletter I made the rather idiotic prediction that there would be no snow. The stations had been threatening, the six o’clock news was sounding the alarm -  but I confidently looked out at our rainy, dark January and declared that snow was nowhere in our near future. Indeed, I was certain of it. 

I must have been out of my mind.

That very weekend God answered with about seven inches of the white stuff, a wintry dowsing of snow that covered the whole of Southeastern Wisconsin like so much whipped cream. It was beautiful, white, and crisp - a monochromatic wonderland. And I had been wrong about the whole thing.

The lesson I drew from all this is that I probably shouldn’t be making predictions about the weather, as a general thing (and I certainly shouldn’t be making them public). As many of us know, predicting the weather in a place like Southern Wisconsin is neither art nor science - it’s a roll of the dice, plain and simple. 

So, in conclusion, I no longer predict things. Lots of things. I don’t predict the weather, I don’t predict the stock market, I don’t predict the race tracks. Movie lines, hairstyles, football scores - I keep my hands off of all of it. No more predictions from Pastor Zarling.

Well, except in one area. 

There is one part of life where I’m still bold enough to make predictions, but that’s because I don’t have to fulfill them. My God does. For when it comes to God’s promises, then I’ll make predictions. Then I will stand on what He says and scream it from the rooftops. So, here’s a few predictions for you, predictions that rest on your Savior.

First, during the year 2020 I predict that the grace of God will surround you like a strong tower and enfold you like an unbreakable suit of armor. Your enemies will flee before it.

Second, I predict that every single one of your sins has been and still is forgiven through the atoning blood of Christ, which is purer than all things, and far outmatches all things.

Third, I predict that during this year all of us will journey ever closer to our heavenly goal - step by step, inch by inch; held firm in the mighty arms or our God. 

I could keep going, but you get the point. God’s promises are ironclad. So ironclad, in fact, that the only prediction I can make with total certainty this 2020 is that God will fulfill His Word over and over again for each and every one of us. 

And that is a good way to start the year!

We thank Good Shepherd's pastor, Reverend Joshua Zarling, for this week's blog post.



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The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? ~ PSALM 27:1