As we begin the month of September school is back in session, the reruns come to an end and we resume much of the same scheduling that we've put aside for a couple of months. Some changes are evident, as the children begin in a new grade or school, or for some, no more school! I hear there's a new kid on the block in late night TV. Some sporting events are soon to be in playoffs, while others are now in pre-season.
Sandy has been attempting to educate me on the NASCAR proceedings and rules. When it comes to the Caution yellow, especially after a crash, I am still trying to figure out how it is decided who restarts where. And then there's the "Lucky Dog", the driver who was first of the drivers being one lap down when the caution flag was waved. He's then waved around to again be on the lead lap. Then, there's "Pit Road" , and a lot of shuffling of position happens there. Once the track is clear the pace car leads the drivers in proper order to the restart, where almost anything can happen.
Usually I enjoy a fresh new start. Oftentimes we look to the New Year as the fresh start mark. Evidently, a lot of people would like to have a fresh start in life. They think, “I’ve blown it, I’ve messed up, I’ve really made a mess of things in my life. I’d like a fresh start.”
Jesus is in the business of giving people a fresh start. The apostle Peter says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5)
Have you been hearing that the end is near, that the world is coming to an end in the near future? Once again we hear our society dictating we must keep God out of our schools, and evidently His Word has no clout! "The fear of THE LORD is the beginning of wisdom", yet we have removed wisdom from our courts, schools and TV. A fresh start? Isn't that what God intended with the worldwide flood in Noah's day? Maybe our society is in self-destruct mode. Take a look at Romans 1: 18ff once again, as God has given man over to his base mind, that he can do whatever he wants, but there is consequence.
Maybe you remember the verse, Refrain:
"We've a story to tell to the nations, For the darkness shall turn to dawning,
that shall turn their hearts to the right, and the dawning to noonday bright, and
a story of truth and mercy, Christ's great kingdom shall come on earth,
a story of peace and light, the kingdom of love and light."
Our church picnic is scheduled for September 20, at 10:30, at the Central Riverside Park. We are hoping that everyone will invite several people to come, because we've a story to tell to the nations, "GOD LOVES YOU!". CASABO should be our salutation: Come again soon, and bring others. GLYSDI, P.B.
CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP AND LOVE
Over the past few months I have especially enjoyed the discussions, preparations and celebrations for fellowship and love within the body of Christ. Our Holy Cross family did so as we celebrated Easter, followed quickly by the Swiss Steak Dinner and then the Storytelling by Jack and Louise. We put together subs for the Kids Worship Camp fund raiser, which will be over as August begins, and we all extended invitations to family and friends to join us in thanking God for each others' love and support at the Service and Dinner in June and the Fish Fry at the Lake in July.
Pleasing God and introducing people to Christ are the church's main reasons for being . We need to continue our outreach, loving others into the Kingdom of God, and encouraging all who already are part of the Family.
As usual, I've enjoyed the Family get-togethers celebrating our Freedoms at our Memorial Day cookout, and birthday dinners with Kathy and her folks. Over the July 4th holiday we were with my family in Canada (and yes, there is a 4th of July in Canada -- in comes between July 3rd and 5th.!) And we missed Canada Day (or is it Dominion Day?) on July 1st, and also the fireworks of the U.S.'s Independence because of our travels.
What a wondrous adventure awaited us at the Creation Museum in Kentucky among the thousands who believe God's version of the Beginning. What an encouragement and blessing that was! It was really fun in discussion and preparation to go, and the celebration continues as we return to share our experiences.
Not to be outdone, I was blessed to be at our Michigan District's Convention in Ann Arbor. The Theme: IMAGINE: Living as God's Loved and Compassionate Community. "Synod" means "walking together". These times are challenging domestically, but also are these opportunities enormous for us. We take a clear stand on Confessional Lutheranism. We take a stand on sin ... we're against it! It often lures and tempts us, and condemns us all!! But we are called to love the sinner, have compassion, and call each to repentance and the forgiveness which Christ offers to those who humbly confess and follow Jesus, the Way, Truth, and Life! We walk together as God's Loved and Compassionate people!
As we remain faithful to God, He WILL bless us. We MAY BE persecuted, and "retreat!" or compromise might be the direction that seems appropriate for survival, but I beg you to remain steadfast in the faith, and to proclaim your HOPE IN CHRIST, that the victory for you and all who hear your voice and see your example will benefit the Kingdom and please God!
You'll be hearing more about our Friends and Family Picnic in the Park with a worship opportunity over the next few weeks. YOU ARE THEIR WITNESS TO GOD'S LOVE! Thank you for being there (and here!)
GLYSDI -- PB
Summertime! As I look at the vegetables and flowers that we've planted I rejoice in seeing their growth, indicating, I hope, their healthiness. My responsibility has been to sow the seeds or the plants, and continue to provide an environment for the plants' growth, by watering and weeding. Hopefully we have put them into a sunny location if they are sun-loving plants, or into a more shady place if the sun does them harm. God, in nature, provides the warmth from the sun and an occasional shower from the heavens. I might use some fertilizer and chicken droppings for further stimulation of the roots, but ultimately, I trust God for the harvest. He made the plants with the fruits in mind, a fully mature creation able to reproduce after their own kinds. We profess that God created everything mature, ready to reproduce after its own kind. His creation was perfect!
Kathy and I have ventured to the Creation Museum in northern Kentucky, not far from Cincinnati. (Bill and Sue D. have been encouraging us to go for quite some time. We "Thank You" for your persistence.)
There, we started our tour with a lesson in archaeology, the reference for which we look at the evidence (fossils, etc.) to look back in time, trying to understand what happened. Some "experts" start with man's guesses on what happened, others read the Bible to see what God says about history. God says, "This is what I did!", and the worldview experts deny the existence of God, declaring man to be the "Supreme Being" of life.
Then we moved into the beginning of the universe, and through the "7 C's of History". This is the heart of the Creation Museum as it highlights God's Plan in Creation and His rescue through Christ. The Garden of Eden is beautifully portrayed. Kathy and I found ourselves face-to-face with the serpent! -- the deceiver. You know the story! Because of the Fall, the Creation was Corrupted, and Catastrope was soon to follow. With the worldwide flood, much of life was destroyed, buried in the soils of the earth. Fossils were made. As they have been discovered, scientists have developed a number of theories to what happened.
We do not deny the existence of dinosaurs! But what we believe about when they lived is clearly different from what the movies and evolutionists think. Satan is described in the Bible as the father of lies (Jn. 8: 44), who wants us to deny the truth, and Christ Himself. Man's thinking, influenced by the devil, brings confusion. We need to question: Who is the AUTHORITY for society? Who sets the rules and laws for harmonious living? Satan wants us to question God's authority. In the end, the at the Consummation, Christ will cast out death and the disobedient, and all who believe will live with Him in His Kingdom, as He originally intended.
We are people of LIFE! I enjoy the world that comes to life in the spring as the earth greens up again, and as the gardens produce their fruits as the season proceeds. We have enjoyed the fruits of the labors of those who invited friends and family to celebrate with us, and concur, we gotta do it again! (Hey, Fish Fry on July 12! Invite some more!) lol GLYSDI, PB
"WELCOME!" That's a greeting we all like to hear! It means we have been received in a kindly fashion, as to one whose arrival gives pleasure. Over the years not much changed with Mr. Rogers Neighborhood and Fred Rogers, who became a PBS legend. When you think about it, it was the same house, the same trolley to take you to a world of make believe, the same puppets and the same opening song. Every episode Mr. Rogers, with his signature sweater and sneakers, always asked the same question in his song: “Would you like to be my neighbor?”
WELCOME, NEIGHBOR!! WELCOME, FRIEND!! This month we celebrate friendship. I expect we all have some close friends. But probably more are distant, maybe due to miles, or situations that set us apart for a time. And if we are "private" people, we probably have just a few close friends. I do not post on Facebook very much. I'm not one to check out what's happening in the life of everyone who has friended me. I hope I am a friendly character, but I don't think I have many close friends.
I recently read: "A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words." We'll often sing, "What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear ..." We celebrate those who come to us in difficult times, reminding us that we are loved in spite of actions or words that were made. Real friends share life with each other. Even our God loves us so much He sent His Son to walk among the human race to have a closer relationship with us all. Jesus, God's Son, became one of us!
At Holy Cross we are called to be neighborly, CARING!! We are surrounded by a great deal of pain. Everywhere you look in our society people are plagued with pain. Some are struck with injuries or illnesses that place them in physical pain. Some are dealing with stigma and scars of emotional pain. Some are living in the darkness and despair of spiritual pain. The mission of the church is to reach out to those in pain. Our purpose is to reach out with hope and healing to a hurting world. Our purpose is to reach out with the love of Christ. We are to love sinners, and assist in having sin less prevalent in our lives. Through repentance and faith we are found accepatable to God.
"Come unto me all who are weary and distressed (burdened), and I will give you rest" is the promise of Christ. (Matt. 11: 28) The Church is the body of Christ in our world today. WE are HIS HEART AND HANDS AND VOICE! We want to be a Light to direct all to Jesus, and His cross of reconciliation with the Father, or Father in heaven. Can we encourage you to walk with us?
To our new friends and members to our family we say, "WELCOME!" GLYSDW .... God LOVES You, And So Do We! Let's get better aquainted. CASABO - Come again soon, and bring others!
Many of you already are aware that I went through another stress test for my heart doctor. I was certainly stressed beforehand, just thinking about what might happen. Desserts spelled backwards is STRESSED, and just maybe, too many desserts has put me into the doctor's office.
People suffering from depression or obesity often report significantly higher stress levels than those who are healthy. Who would have thought? We recently completed our study about "Worry!", recognizing that the lack of trust in God is sin!
There are many faith-related measures – or spiritual exercises – that a believer can take or apply to manage their worry and stress. I’ll mention just a few of the key ones we studied .....
Worship. Being with your faith community, and among friends.
Trust God – If we trust God, and believe that he is in control and that he’ll provide for our needs, we will be less likely to be anxious or to worry.
Depend on God – Often we try to muster up all the inner strength we can to deal with the stress and associated circumstances in our life. Throughout God’s Word, he encourages us to surrender to a deeper level, to be humble, to depend on him!
Live In the Power of the Holy Spirit – as we ask God to live through us, we use His gifts to touch others, and we fix our eyes outside ourselves. His Spirit in us is the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the grave. The apostle Paul encourages us to live by God’s Spirit.
Abide in Christ – Jesus tells us in John 15 to remain in him because apart from him we can do nothing. Apart from Jesus, we are not going to be able to manage all that life throws at us, including the stressors in our life.
People who are depressed are angrier and tired. One stress reliever I enjoy is laughter. "A merry heart does good, like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones." (Prov. 17: 22)
Dr. Brian Seaward (author of "Stressed is Desserts Spelled Backward") remembers an epiphany--a turning point in a childhood filled with incredible pain. His grandmother handed him a plate of freshly baked cookies with these loving words: “Now remember, stressed is just desserts spelled backward!” He realized that humor and compassion go a long way toward easing both stress and sorrow and has made it his life’s work to teach people that when met with faith, humor, love, and optimism, life’s greatest challenges can lead to success and spiritual depth.
My doctor has prescribed "diet and exercise" so that I lose weight, (2 pounds per month) and get healthier. The statins he had me on had begun to destroy some muscle tone and my liver! He called and said, "Stop taking the statin!" I feel better now.
I'll be getting into my garden soon, doing yard work, and laughing more as I celebrate all the gifts God has for me, including you, and many other friends. Remember to invite a friend or two for our "Celebration of Friendship" Sunday on June 14.
I feel better already, don't you??
The God of the Bible is a "missionary God" who graciously pursues people. That pursuit involves the work of the Holy Spirit and the proclamation of His people—and that proclamation often involves emphases from the local church...(that's us!)
After all, don't we exist to proclaim the gospel and demonstrate the kingdom of God in our lost and dying world? In being faithful to her calling, the church should be reaching people with the good news of the gospel and welcoming them in to a local community of believers. Would that not be the natural overflow of a local church's faithful ministry? However, many churches find themselves unfruitful in seeing new people to connect with their congregation.
Many people ARE open to an invitation from church, particularly if it is from someone they know. But one simple invitation isn't necessarily going to result in subsequent attendance. Neighbors may come because of an invitation, but they'll stay for the friendliness of the community. The personal invitation is an effective way to break down any real or perceived barriers one might have to walking into a church building or being willing to engage in a new circle of people, especially if you are there to welcome them.
I want to encourage you to invite friends and family to our special FRIENDSHIP SUNDAY CELEBRATION to be held May 17. Now, please NOTE: the 2nd Sunday of May is Mother's Day, and we should hold that day special for them! So, pot-luck should be moved to the following week...the 17th. Then, we should have communion separate from the celebration, as it wouldn't be appropriate to have communion with visitors who might not share our faith and shouldn't then visit the Lord's Table. So, we'll share the Supper on the 1st & 4th Sundays in May. Our 10AM Summer schedule will begin on the 4th Sunday, the 24th, Memorial Day weekend.
Let's make this something special, and when you're excited about this event you'll express that in your discussion with those you want to tell about Jesus' love. Your goal is to invite people to come, and my goal will be to tell His story of love for us all. Pray for God's direction as you consider, let's say, 3 people you would like to pray for and invite specifically.
Remember we all don't speak the same love language. Some speak words of affirmation, others, receiving gifts, or acts of service. Others need quality time or physical touch. What language of love do you hear?
Certainly we see and hear Jesus' love as we mourn His death, pleading for forgiveness for those who "know not what they do", and also as we meet and greet Jesus after the Third Day. WE are witnesses! WHY do you doubt? Stop doubting and believe? He wants us to rejoice! We've been saved!
God loves YOU, so do I .... (GLYSDI) Pass it around, it will come back to you.
Just a couple of months ago we celebrated the birth of the Savior Jesus, and now, in this season of Lent He is soon to be crucified for the reconciliation of God and humankind through His shed blood and death. We sang "What child is this who, laid to rest on Mary's lap, is sleeping??" Throughout Epiphany we asked "WHO is this?", as Jesus declared His authority in Word and deed. And the carol of Christmas included, "Nails, spear shall pierce him through, The cross be borne for me, for you". OUCH!
Yes. The wood. The thorns. The nails. Christ's sacrifice has defined the very essence of mankind's faith for the past 2000 years. And now, this season we examine the cross, contemplate its purpose, and celebrate its significance. Our Lenten services (at Mount Calvary until Holy Week) will examine some objects present at the cross - the crown of thorns, the nails, His garment, a wine-soaked sponge, the soldiers spit - reflecting on several chapters of Max Lucado's "He Chose the Nails".
Max writes, "Because God doesn't do anything by happenstance, each part of the crucifixion is important." Of the soldiers' spit, the soldiers were not told to spit at Jesus, but the evil inside of them made them do it. "Jesus didn't wipe it off. No angel helped him," "Allow the spit of the soldiers to symbolize the filth in our hearts. And then observe what Jesus does with our filth. He carries it to the cross."
Do you give up something for Lent to be drawn into a stronger relationship with Him? Or do you simply give up something only to continue it after the season? How about simply readin the Bible, God's Word for an additional 15 minutes each day in addition to what you're already (I presume) doing? Can any of us give up sinning for the whole season? No way! So let's concentrate on one sinless day -- 24 hours-- that's not out of the question, is it? "The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law -- indeed it cannot" (Rom. 8:7). Can you live without sin for one day? Can a leopard change his spots?
I hope you will accept my challenge ... not to give up chocolate forever or smoking (please consider it), but 15 extra minutes each day in His Word. And, if you could curtail the frequency of sin, that wouild be a special blessing, and only with His help! Now that would be the disciple of Christ ... wanting to be more like Jesus!
"Shall we go on sinning that more grace might abound? By no means!" declares St. Paul. "How shall we who died to sin still live in it?" (Rom. 6:1-2) Onward, Christian Soldiers, marching as to war! The cross of Jesus goes on before us ... Let us ever follow Jesus, follow His example pure! We journey to Mount Calvary (ironic isn't it? the place of Jesus' crucifixion, and the church in which we worship this year!) ... supper at 6, and service at 7. (Our ladies are bringing the desserts. Our pastor, the message.)
Did you happen to see the newscast that drew attention to Law Enforcement Officers who have had so many accidents because they were distracted while driving? They may have in their front seat a computer, radar, communications radio, a cell phone and the dashcam. It doesn't take but a second to change someone's life forever.
I, too, am often distracted. I find myself driving and sometimes wondering "what was the price of gas?" I know I looked, but I can't recall. Or when I get by the airport and see a plane about to land, and I want to watch. Or, a pretty lady (or a dog) on the sidewalk may catch my eye. Not only while driving, but when I might be doing something else, my eyes, then my mind wanders. The dogs, the TV, the phone, or the clock may distract me from completing the job at hand.
Being at the bedside of those who have recently died has brought this to mind again. I don't know how aware they were of my presence, but I reminded them about Jesus' love for them as He went to the cross for them. We want them to be reassured of the hope we have in our Lord. We want to be comforted, knowing they are with God in heaven because of the cross. Instead of a good-bye we can say "see you later" to our loved ones.
As Lent arrives this year we are reminded: "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb. 12: 2) Pastor Jeff is distracted with his wife Grace's illness, and is spending important time with her as she goes through treatment. We pray for her complete healing and recovery. I have accepted the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel to our daughter congregation for this Lenten season. We are going to worship together with them AT MOUNT CALVARY, Greenville, each Wednesday beginning Ash Wednesday, at 7 PM, with a soup and sandwich supper at 6 PM. HCLC is asked to bring a simple dessert, like cookies. I hope you will accept this opportunity too, as we worship with our brothers and sisters to the north.
What a welcome distraction God provides. A respite for a day's activities to just re-focus, even for a few moments, as he reminds us that He loves us. God so loves US that he gave his only Son, so that WE WHO BELIEVE shall not perish, but have eternal life. How can this be? Because of the disdain of some, God's will was done ... on A CROSS, through the scourging and shame.
How cruel can mankind be?? Just look to the holocaust, to ISIS, to controllers and angry people ... to the movies and video games ... the abuse and killings ... in role-play and reality. How cruel?? Look at the sufferings of Jesus. He did it just for ME! WOW!
GLY2, so do I, PB
In January Holy Cross will host the monthly Circuit Pastors' gathering, called a "winkel", (translated from the German, meaning "corner"), and then, on the 25th, our Circuit Forum meets here. Each congregation is expected to send their pastor and a lay representative for some business preparing for the District Convention to be held next summer. (We need a lay rep. from Holy Cross. Anyone interested??)
We also have word that another Theological Conference is in the works for March 21 in Jenison, "Life in the Spirit -- Watered, Fed, and Armed". More information will follow as available.
So, when we think of January, it's a new start. We look forward with anticipation for something good to happen, although we dare not do just what we've always done and expect different results! We go with what has worked, and change that which hasn't, right? We're continuing our study in "The Purpose Driven Church" for just a few more weeks, and plan for success as we "Ready, Aim, and Fire" at the targets we think appropriate. I like the quote of St. Francis of Assisi who states: "Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
Psalm 142 talks about getting through the season of discouragement. One of the things that causes discouragement is the realization that we're not as young as we used to be. I was reading about an older lady who joined a fitness club. She said I decided to take an aerobics class. I bent. I twisted. I gyrated. I jumped up and down for an hour. But by the time I got my leotards on, the class was over.
Some day, it will be over for all of us. That's why I like Psalm 73:26. It says, "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Your body may not be able to do what it used to do. But God can do what He's ALWAYS been able to do! He's the One who gives you the strength to go boldly through this life. And He's the One who gets you ready to be promoted up to the next life.
When people get Seasonal Affective Disorder, one of the most effective treatments is light therapy. Getting people to spend more time in the light. I want sunshine! So, how do we overcome the darkness of discouragement? Spend more time in the LIGHT! Spend more time talking with Jesus. Spend more time listening to Christian radio. Spend more time reading the Word. Spend more time hanging out with other people who love Jesus. In John 8:12, Jesus says, "I am the Light of the World. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
So when you think about your New Year's Resolutions, consider your health, physical and spiritual. Don t give up. Look up! You're on a winning team. You're surrounded by people who love you. And you're surrounded by a God who loves you. Psalm 43:5 says, "Why are you downcast, o my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, My Savior and my God".
What athlete ever won the race by starting with an attitude of conceding to failure in the end? Or not really desiring to win or being apathetic about the race. Even for men and women who fail to win first place, but keep on trying, and who never give up there is great benefit! They win, they finish and they do so because of their resolve. Some run a marathon and come in way back in the pack....but they can still wear the T shirt..."I ran the marathon!"
2015 has 365 days, and we live one day at a time. Not every day will be a good one, but know ..."Jesus loves you, this I know. For the Bible tells me so." That goes for every day, especially those bad ones. So keep smiling! GO with GOD!
It was a cold winter's night in Korea. An expectant mother trudged through the freezing snow toward the home of a missionary friend where she knew she would find help. A short way down the road from the mission house was a deep gully spanned by a bridge. As the young woman stumbled along, birth pains overcame her. She realized she could go no farther and crawled beneath the bridge. There alone between the trestles she gave birth to a baby boy. She had nothing with her except the heavy padded clothes she was wearing. One by one she removed the pieces of clothing and wrapped them around her infant son - around and around, like a cumbersome cocoon. Then, finding a discarded piece of burlap, she pulled it over herself, and lay exhausted and shivering beside her baby.
The next morning the missionary drove her Jeep across the bridge to take a food basket to a Korean family. On the way back, as she neared the bridge, the vehicle sputtered and died, out of gas. She left the Jeep on the side of the road and started walking across the bridge toward the mission, but stopped when she heard a faint cry beneath her. She crawled under the bridge to investigate. There she found the tiny baby, warm but hungry, and the young mother frozen to death by his side.
The missionary took the baby home and cared for him. As the boy grew, he often asked his adopted mother to tell him the story of how she had found him.
On the 12th anniversary of his mother's death, the lad asked the missionary to take him to her grave. Once there he asked her to wait a distance away while he went to pray. The boy stood beside the grave with bowed head, weeping. Then he began to disrobe. As the astonished missionary watched, the boy took off his warm clothing, piece by piece, and laid them on his mother's grave.
Surely he won't take off all his clothing, the missionary thought. He'll freeze! But the boy stripped himself of everything, putting all his warm clothing on the grave. He knelt naked and shivering in the freezing snow. As the missionary went to him to help him dress, she heard him cry out to the mother he never knew: "Were you colder than this for me, my mother?" And he wept bitterly.
When Christ came, He stripped himself of every royal garment and entered into a world of hatred and cold indifference. Why did He do it? Because He saw that centuries of broken lives needed a Savior. And then He died of a broken heart. What broke it? The sin of mankind. The long history of men worshipping false gods in temples made with hands. War, bloodshed, crime, cruelty, sexual deviation, and greed - these things broke the heart of Christ.
But so did we. Our coldness broke His heart and now it freezes Him out. We complacent Christians who are outwardly satisfied, yet inwardly suffering from apathy! We who pray, "Give us compassion for a lost world," and then "sacrifice" a dollar for missions. We with our comfortable homes and apartments and brimming garbage cans. We who have the money, knowledge, and manpower to take the gospel to every creature, and yet we don't. We who say we love the lost, and neglect to tell a lost neighbor about a loving Savior. Jesus' love lies frozen between lips that ought to be warm to speak for Him.
Lord, we take off our garments of pride and self-righteousness, glittering but transparent filthy rags that they are, and lay them at Your feet. In our naked need we cry, "Were you colder than this because of us, Lord?" And we weep bitterly, because we know You were.
Author known only to God. GLYSDI, Pastor Bob