Pastor's Blog

September 2020

Be Still and Know that I Am God

The trees are immune.

The school year has now started, with schools from different areas doing different things (are you virtual, are you not virtual?). The elections looms nearer, with the ads getting more accusatory and acidic by the minute (big surprise). The Big Ten has completely reversed itself -because that always looks good - and is now going to play football. Oh, and the Packers are doing...well, they're actually doing pretty good.

And the trees are oblivious to all of it.

This is a different fall season than we've had before. There's just so much going on, so many things seem to be drifting in and out of chaos like a rubber ducky plucked from a bathtub and thrown into ocean waves. But remember, that's just us. Our affairs are chaotic right now. WE feel like we're dealing with a lot, like this fall season is different.

But the trees don't care, they're just doing what they do. For them, this is business as usual. They don't give a hoot about Covid, riots, housing prices, canning lid shortages, virtual learning, or the right to vote. They just know it is time to start changing colors, so that's what they're doing.

They're immune.

In Psalm 46 God tells us, "Be still and know that I am God." Be still, and know that He is in command. He is in control. He is immune from the worry and fear and chaos and indecision we are plagued with. His love and protection for us continue - unchecked, unimpeded, unhindered, unbreakable.

He is immune. He just keeps doing what he is doing.

And so can we. We can wrap ourselves in his promises and protection and keep doing what we're doing. We can keep doing the things that please him - to love and help each other, to hold firmly to his Word, to lift our eyes to the heavens, waiting for his return.

Let us be still and know that he is God. In him, we have everything.

God's blessings,

Pastor Joshua Zarling

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Normal - or a New Normal

Normal – or a New Normal: Who has not expressed a desire for “things to return to normal” in the past few months? While I cannot offer a solution for our economy or social lives, September will see a return to some “normal” activities at Good Shepherd’s: We will resume our weekly Bible Class schedule!

We will, of course, take the necessary precautions that are required these days – tables and chairs will be spaced apart for social distancing. But the purpose of Bible Class will remain the same. We will read and discuss sections of God’s Word so that we can grow in our faith.

For some, who have attended Bible Class in the past, this will be a return to normalcy. I would encourage you to continue attending Bible Class as you have done in the past.

For others, attending Bible Class will require a change. You will need to establish a “new normal.” I strongly encourage you to consider making Bible Class a regular part of your spiritual diet as a Christian.

Worship services certainly have a place in our spiritual diet. As we sing and hear God’s Word, we grow in faith. But worship services do not allow for questions and answers. Because a worship service has a time constraint, we often do not dig as deeply into God’s Word as we can in a Bible Class. Attending Bible Class provides the opportunity for a more well-rounded knowledge of Biblical truth and, therefore, a more solid faith.

God encourages us to grow in our faith: “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Jesus told us, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples” (John 8:31). Jesus encouraged not only the church workers to “hold to [his] teaching” but all of his followers. Christians need to know what our Lord has taught in his Word. One of the ways we can grow in our knowledge of God’s Word is through Bible Classes.

Martin Luther wrote the Large Catechism as a tool to instruct people in the truth of God’s Word. In the Preface to the Large Catechism, Luther offered strong warnings against being satisfied with what we know about the Bible or neglecting to learn more. He said, “Many see a catechism as a poor, common teaching, which they can read through once and immediately understand. They can throw the book into a corner and be ashamed to read it again.” The study of God’s Word is not intended only for school age children. God’s people of every age always benefit from growing in a knowledge of God’s will.

Later in the Preface, Luther commented on the benefits we receive from continuing to learn God’s Word: “You will not release a stronger incense or other repellant against the devil than to be engaged by God’s commandments and words.” He expressed a similar thought as a strong warning: “Oh, what mad, senseless fools we are! While we must ever live and dwell among such mighty enemies as the devils, we still despise our weapons and defense, and we are too lazy to look at or think of them.” He was warning against neglecting God’s Word, which is our only defense against the devil.

In the conclusion of the Preface Martin Luther says, “Therefore, I again beg all Christians – especially pastors and preachers – not to think of themselves as doctors too soon and imagine that they know everything. . . . Furthermore, they should guard with all care and diligence against the poisonous infection of contentment and vain imagination, but steadily keep on reading, teaching, learning, pondering, and meditating.”

For our congregation to grow and flourish, we must be faithful in hearing and growing in God’s Word! As we see more clearly what Jesus has done for us, our faith will grow. As we apply what Jesus has done to our daily lives, we will grow in our willingness and ability to live as God’s people. The time in God’s Word will be a benefit to your faith and life.

God’s blessings,

Pastor Tim Wempner

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