Dear friends in Christ,
Along with our new year comes the roar of information, opinions, oral and written words for us to make sense of. There is 24/7 chatter coming to us from what seems to be overwhelming sources. For instance I understand that there are now 27 national news networks, 69 national sports networks, 27 religious channels, millions of websites, facebook, twitter and yes snail mail.
Who and what do we listen to? Let us be reminded that most of the noise in our lives, no matter how well packaged, is fleeting. Yet there is one voice that is eternal. For two millennia Christ followers have drawn inspiration and direction from the timeless truths of God’s precious Word. As St. Peter taught us in the 1st century, All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass; the grass withers and the flower fades, but the Word of the Lord abides forever (1 Peter 1:24).
The Word of the Lord abides forever is one Biblical truth we must hold on to. It is Pastor Chris Brekke who has reminded us, The Word of our Lord Jesus and the principles of His Way have had far more impact on our western world than any army that ever marched or any invention ever developed.
Holy Scripture delivers God to us. It stretches our boundaries, it opens divine dialog, it announces grace and truth, and it guides our faith journey forward. If you desire a message of hope that comes from outside the competing voices that surround us, give God’s Book a look, a read.
A helpful way to become motivated to read the Word of our Lord is by switching a long standing perception far too many have, that it is not words about God, but primarily words from God. Once you realize the reason why it is vitally important to read Scripture then consider the most effective ways of how to dig into the life changing Word.
1 – Make a plan, pick a time and place and commit to it. By reading the Bible we get to know God, his voice becomes familiar, one’s heart and mind are marinated in the Word and faith blossoms.
2 – Bring a genuine desire to learn. An honest seeker will find God’s Truth. Pray that the Holy Spirit will create a desire to grow in the fear and knowledge of the Lord.
3 – Keep Jesus Central. The written Word bears witness to Jesus, the living Word. He helps us focus on faith, and where there is focus, life and salvation follow.
4 – Start small. The Bible can be overwhelming. Begin with one small section at a time, a smaller portion of Scripture to read and heed.
I close with the reminder from St. Paul when he wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, All Scripture is God-breathed useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness so that the man or woman of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. Please do start to read or continue reading the transforming Word of God!
May the Christ of Christmas bless you today, tomorrow and throughout our New Year!
Dear friends in Christ,
The Good News of the Gospel in Titus 2:11-14 boldly proclaims, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all people. It teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”
The study of God‟s Word ultimately points us to Jesus, the Christ, the Word made flesh. The precious and Holy Word of God undeniably communicates to us that our Lord Jesus came to us over 2000 years ago, that our Lord Jesus continues to come to us in the celebration of the Word and Sacrament, and that our Lord Jesus will come for us at the end of the Age.
In other words God is with us now and forever. God didn‟t wait until the world “got its act together” before he acted. Rather, as Galatians 4:4-5 reminds us, “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons and daughters.”
We do not need to attempt to climb up to God in order to find him, to experience his presence in daily life, rather God came down to us in the person of Jesus Christ and promises to abide with us as we move forward in faith. The good news is that, you and I are saved by God‟s grace through faith here and now and forever, a precious gift from God rather than the result of our works.
May we all embrace the blessings of our Lord Jesus as He graciously bestows upon us His love, peace, hope and joy throughout the upcoming Advent and Christmas seasons! May we worship Him, and only Him, as the Christ-Child, as the Savior of the world, as King of kings and as Lord of lords!
Dear friends in Christ,
Earlier in the month of October four of us from OSLC had the privilege of participating in the LCMC Annual International Gathering, this year having been held in Minneapolis, Minnesota. From my perspective it has always been a joy for me to join with 900 or more people from the LCMC Association of Churches who gather together each year from all over the world for worship, for Bible study, for fellowship, for networking and for church business. Next October 7th-10th, 2018, we are scheduled to gather in Des Moines, Iowa, and hope to have 10 to 20 of you join us as delegates, visitors and helpers as in the past when hosted in Des Moines.
This particular gathering included Pastor, Dr. Jo Kinnard as our Bible study leader. She was raised a Hindu in India and after facing a personal crisis in her forties while living in the U.S. came to know the saving grace of God, who later called her into ordained ministry and is now serving Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Inwood, Iowa. While soul searching in her forties she happened to visit Hosanna Lutheran Church in St. Charles, Illinois, where she immediately experienced a warm and friendly hospitality ministry along with the preaching and teaching of the transforming Word of God. Soon after her decision to continue worshipping at Hosanna Lutheran she was invited to participate in the life and ministry of that faith community which helped her come to the conclusion that each of us are to be grace-bearers to one another just as she was graciously welcomed.
Pastor Jo provided one of the most dynamic Bible studies I have ever been a part of based upon Romans 10, in particular verses 5-15, concluding with the Biblical acclamation of, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (v15) You and I are grace-bearers, we are the ones, as the Apostle Paul reminds us, “the beautiful feet of those who bring good news” to others in the world around us.
If we are “saved by grace through faith” as St. Paul reminds us in Ephesians, let us then joyfully respond with heartfelt gratitude for the saving work of Christ as grace-bearers to those around us, our family, our faith family, our neighbors, our community members and those we encounter in our daily travels. As we venture out in faith each new day God so graciously gives, ask the Lord to help us put into practice the privilege of being grace-bearers. As we gather with family and friends during the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays pray that God would give the desire and courage to be grace-bearers.
Let us always remember as St. Paul reminds us in Romans 10:17, that, “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” And always remember that grace is the free and unmerited favor of God!
God’s grace and peace be with you all,
Dear friends in Christ,
Throughout this year, 2017, we have been celebrating the 500 Year Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. This October, in commemoration of Martin Luther posting the 95 Theses on the Wittenberg, Germany church door on October 31, 1517, we are focusing our attention on that pivotal event in Church History. A short summary of what the Reformation was all about would be that there were five great principles, or five core teachings, that the church rediscovered. They are also referred to as “the hallmarks of the Reformation”. These five essential teachings are: Scripture Alone, Christ Alone, Grace Alone, Faith Alone, and to the Glory of God Alone. We sometimes refer to them as the five “solas” of the Reformation because the Latin word sola means alone.
In addition to “the hallmarks of the Reformation” there are other major contributions Martin Luther has made, one being his focus on missions and the Reformation. “The Gospel is not to be kept in a corner but should fill the whole world.” It may be surprising that these words were not spoken by some famous missionary, but instead in sermons by Martin Luther, the father of the Reformation.
Luther saw the Bible as a missionary book. This was especially true of the Old Testament and his commentary on Genesis where he noted that the promise of blessing to Abram included all the families of the earth. The Book of Psalms was also taught by him as a powerful source of missionary instruction and inspiration.
Luther’s doctrine of vocation, which continues to impact Christendom today, is that every Christian is called to serve Christ regardless of his or her calling in life. Missionary service is not a separate category for special people, rather it is at the heart of the common calling of all of God’s people.
This missionary service begins at home, as Luther reminds us when he stated, “The noblest and greatest work and the most important service that we can perform for God on earth is bringing other people, and especially those who are entrusted to us, to the knowledge of God by the holy Gospel.”
We are also encouraged to learn more of the missionary outreach of Luther as a teacher. During his years as a professor at the university in Wittenberg, he shared his rediscovery of the Gospel with fellow faculty members and together they touched the lives of as many as 16,000 students. Approximately one-third of them were from other lands, equipped through their studies to carry the message of Scripture Alone, Christ Alone, Grace Alone, Faith Alone, and to the Glory of God Alone,” to a lost world. Therefore, Luther’s university became the first missionary training school.
Luther wrote the Small Catechism after experiencing firsthand the widespread ignorance of God’s Word and the work’s righteousness of those within the church as he would visit families throughout Germany. At the beginning of the Small Catechism, he wrote, “As the head of the family should teach them in a simple way to his household.”
As church history reveals, the Gospel that transformed the life of Martin Luther led to a wellspring of world missions. The Bible teaches us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, therefore all need to be saved. The missionary heart is renewed when we believe this simple message and trust in the power of the Word of God to make disciples of all nations.
In the coming weeks, as we gather in God’s Church to hear God’s transforming Word and sing hymns of faith written already in the early Reformation years, please do take note of the how our Lord can use even one person who is aligned with His will to help change the world for the sake of the Gospel. We will have the opportunity to worship together each Sunday, three of those Sabboth Days in October being, Consecration Sunday-thanking God for our lives of faith, Mission Sunday- thanking God for our calling to be missionaries in our homes, neighborhoods, communities, state, nation and world, and Reformation Sunday-thanking God that we are saved by grace through the gift of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Dear friends in Christ,
Throughout this year, 2017, we have been celebrating the 500 Year Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. This fall, in commemoration of Martin Luther posting the 95 Theses on the Wittenberg, Germany church door on October 31, 1517, we are focusing our attention on that pivotal event in Church History. A short summary of what the Reformation was all about would be that there were five great principles, or five core teachings, that the church rediscovered. They are also referred to as “the hallmarks of the Reformation”. These five essential teachings are: Scripture alone, Christ alone, grace alone, faith alone, and the glory of God alone. We sometimes refer to them as the five “solas” of the Reformation because the Latin word sola means alone.
The order in which they are listed is important. The place we start is with the Scripture alone because this is the foundation for everything else that we believe as Christians. All that we know about Christ and grace and faith and the glory of God is found in the precious Word of God.
When Martin Luther spoke of Scripture alone, his concern was for the authority of Scripture. Luther lived in a time when the Church didn’t view Scripture alone as the ultimate authority. Luther took a stand on the truth of the ultimate authority being the Word of God alone. This core teaching, Scripture alone, has been called the formal principle of the Protestant Reformation because it stands at the very beginning and gives form or direction to all that we Christians affirm. If we don’t get this principle correct, we will not get the rest of them correct.
In 2nd Timothy 3:14-17, The Apostle Paul gives Timothy three reasons why we must stand on Scripture alone. First, because Scripture alone is powerful. Paul stated, “You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (v.14-15).
Timothy had the blessing of a Christian grandmother and mother who taught him from the time that he was an infant (2nd Timothy 1:5). He had seen what the Word of God had done in their lives. But it wasn’t just Timothy’s mother and grandmother who convinced him of the power of God’s Word. He also had the example of the Apostle Paul. When you see the number one enemy of the Church become a committed follower of Jesus, it can’t help but impact your life. If the Word of God can change a man like Saul of Tarsus, it can change anyone.
Second, the Word of God is inspired. The phrase translated “inspired by God” (v.16) is literally “God breathed.” The words of Scripture come from the mouth of God. Though He used human authors, it is truly His Word, breathed out for us. Third, God’s Word is profitable. It teaches us. It reproves us. It corrects us. It trains us in righteousness. And as a result we are “equipped for every good work” (v.17).
This September 10th, Rally Sunday, as God’s people who are hearers of the Word and doers of the Word, we are once again gifting preschoolers and 3rd grade children with new Bibles. We believe that the inspired Word of God changes lives, here and now, and most importantly for an eternity. We gather as people of God for worship which is based on the Word and the Sacraments. We provide Sunday School for all ages with our primary source for instruction being none other than Scripture alone. We offer a youth Bible study which will meet on Wednesday evenings (more details with follow). We are encouraged to regularly spend time in the Word during personal prayer and devotion. We offer Bible study for men and women to help us grow in the gift of faith as disciples of Jesus. And we will provide additional opportunities this fall to learn more about the Reformation, its impact in the entire world then and now, and how God called, equipped, empowered and used men like Martin Luther to help reform the Lord’s Church.
I am praying that you will be active in worship, Sunday School for all ages, invested daily in seeking His Word, and encouraging others to do likewise.
Dear friends in Christ,
In my June 25th sermon I made a point of reminding our worshippers to not underestimate each of our acts of kindness motivated with a Christ-centered, servant heart. Jesus teaches us in Matthew’s gospel by stating, “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me….And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you that person will certainly not lose their reward.”
Think for a moment about this portion of the Lord’s Prayer, the second and third petitions, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Now ask yourself, if I am courageous enough to pray this model Christian prayer that Jesus taught us to pray, shouldn’t I then be courageous enough to seek that his will to be done here on this earth with not only words but Godly actions?
Throughout Jesus’ ministry, he converted good intentions/heartfelt compassion into action. He channeled his compassion into specific and deliberate action to engage the people whose circumstances touched his heart. Compassion drove him to break societal and religious norms in order to engage the world around them. We are to do that same.
Holy Scripture teaches us to express genuine compassion as a way of joining our Lord in doing his will on earth here and now, not someday when we have the time. Compassion is a get-yourhands- dirty, put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is response to real human need.
This world needs our prayers and our presence! Those who are struggling are looking for Compassion-driven care and Christ-centered concern for their physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Jesus came to change the world. We are his hands, feet, eyes, ears and the voices of love and compassion that changes one heart at a time so that “his kingdom will come, his will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
May our mighty and gracious Lord embolden and empower you in ministry and mission for His Kingdom sake,
Dear friends in Christ,
John Stonestreet, president of The Colson Center for a Christian Worldview has recently been quoted as stating, “Culture forms a person‘s identity and loyalty.” A question I would like for us to consider is whether today‘s culture is predominately influenced by God‘s Word or by a vast array of other man-made enticing options? If the Bible clearly communicates that we are created in the image of God and that our identity is found in Christ Jesus as Lord who claims us as his own in the waters of Holy Baptism, does not the reality of our modern day culture dominated by consumerism, secularism, and entertainment present a heartfelt struggle with where one‘s identity is found and one‘s loyalty lies?
One of the most important Church Fathers of Western Christianity, Saint Augustine, stated in the 4th century A.D. that, “We will not know who we are until we know whose we are,” and “Our heart will not rest until it rests in you, Lord.” Do not the popular culture mediums of media, movies, academia and even government, all which primarily promote a much different and at times opposing worldviews compared to a Christian worldview, present an heartfelt struggle with where our identity is found and our loyalty lies?
“Live and let live” has become the motto of our age, a post Christian era of history. Any Christian who has expressed his or her beliefs in public will have heard this countless times even though faith is personal but not private. The problem is that sooner or later conflicting beliefs collide. And as Alliance Defending Freedom Founder, Alan Sears tells us, it‘s usually Christian beliefs that are expected to give way.
Pastor Chris Brooks characterizes the present day reality of our culture and this nation by stating, “We are more formed by our partisan politics rather than by the gospel that embodies the completed work of redemption and the true nature of Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior.” What does that say about the direction our country appears to be headed, and yes, even some of us in God‘s Church? Pastor Chris reminds us that, “The hope of this country and the rest of the world will never come in Air Force One no matter one‘s political persuasion. Remember that the very thing that gives us value and worth in our earthly lives, if not God based, will likely come back to potentially mislead and possibly destroy us.”
Studies conclude that culture is critical in helping a person find meaning in life. Where are Americans turning to in order to find meaning and purpose in today‘s world? St. Paul writes in Romans 12, “So dear brothers and sisters…Don‘t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God‘s will for you which is good and pleasing and perfect.” NLT
As we approach and celebrate this year‘s 4th of July national holiday, let me remind everyone that the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives us freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Even though many in America think otherwise, our Christian faith is personal but not private. We have the right to share the Good News of the Gospel through our words and actions. We have the privilege of encouraging a Christian worldview in our personal life, our family life, our community life, in our nation and throughout the world. We need to continue to build up the body of Christ wherever that may be. We need to share the life changing, life-saving message of Jesus Christ, the living Son of God, who is the only hope we and the rest of the world have here and now and for eternity.
Dear friends in Christ,
In early May eight of us from OSLC attended one or both days of the annual LCMC Leadership Conference which happened to be held in Omaha this year. The theme for this valuable training was Discipling by Design. At the close of the final presentation pastors and other church leaders who are presently struggling with difficult personal or congregational challenges were invited to stand so that the rest of us would have the opportunity to pray for them. We soon surrounded each person who sought our prayer support. Laying hands on each one of them, a group of ten or more brothers and sisters in Christ offered intercessory prayer on their behalf. It was a marvelous sight and a powerful sign of God’s desire and design for prayer in His Church.
There have been times in previous parish settings that I have been one of those church leaders who has desired prayer support, and fortunately for me there were men and women of faith who responded quickly who encouraged me by their presence and the power of God at work through the prayers of the righteous. As leaders in God’s Church we want to stress the fact that we all need to be people of prayer. Prayer is the most important ingredient to a vibrant, growing faith, individually and congregationally. Prayer is a discipline of our Christian faith. Prayer is essentially communing with God. Prayer makes the difference in all aspects of life.
We are reminded in Holy Scripture that Jesus spent an entire night in prayer before he chose his disciples as recorded in Luke 6. Prayer is serious business. In this case, for the men who would walk with Jesus, learn from him and later carry the Good News to the ends of the earth. As Jesus journeyed with his disciples, he gave them and us a powerful example of how to pray in Matthew 6, providing us the Model Christian Prayer, The Lord’s Prayer. During Jesus’ earthly ministry he encountered many lost souls. He then encouraged his disciples to pray for the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into the harvest as recorded in Luke 10.
The entire chapter of John 17 is known as The High Priestly Prayer. It is here that Jesus prayed that he himself remain faithful to the end, prayed that the disciples would remain faithful in their God-ordained calling as followers of Jesus, and then prayed for all who would come after them as followers of Jesus which includes each of us.
Even in the final minutes of his life on earth, Jesus continued to call out to his Father in prayer as noted in Luke 23, “Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” God calls each of us to pray as Jesus did. As we pray, God revives our passion for him, changes our hearts and helps us to grow in depths of wisdom and compassion for one another, especially the lost.
As these summer months begin, my prayer is that we seek to grow nearer to the heart of God through prayer when at home, when at work, when at play and when we gather in God’s house for worship.
I encourage you to invest your summer months searching the scriptures to learn more about the discipline of prayer. I pray that you memorize Bible passages such as James 5:16b which proclaims, “The prayer of the righteous person is powerful and effective.”
Dear friends in Christ,
Two institutions God has established by His authority are the church and state. The power of the church is one that rescues sinners from their sin through Jesus’ work of redemption, the Good News of the gospel we are privileged to celebrate again this Easter season and throughout our lifetimes as people of faith who are saved by the grace of God. Romans 1:16 speaks of this Good News with the words, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” This power changes people’s hearts and minds from the inside and makes them desire to do what is pleasing to God and for the glory of God.
The power of the state however is one of preserving order & promoting public safety. It uses outward incentives to encourage acceptable behavior in people whether they want to contribute to the common good of humanity or not. Romans 13:1-7 addresses that power of the state. Verse one reads, “Everyone must submit to the governing authority, for there is no authority except which God has established.”
It may surprise some to know that both of these institutions are provided by God for our good. But given humanity’s fallen nature, we do not have to study history long to see how these gifts have been misused and abused by those who, rather than following our Lord’s desire for each of us to love one another and look out for each other’s wellbeing, have demonstrated instead the desire to control others for their own benefit and outcome. (Past centuries and recent decades of war, major global unrest, the threat of terror, international/national social unrest and overwhelming family upheaval are just a few examples) Imagine further the abuse that would take place if the distinction between these institutions and powers given them are blurred, whether that be state or church.
Early 16th century Germany was in this perilous state. People of the land were being told by the church and the state that if enough money would change hands their souls could be set free. Into this volatile situation a pamphlet came into the hands of the common people which was printed in their own language and called the 95 Theses, along with other writings from a Wittenberg professor named Martin Luther. Biblical teachings within these writings resulted in helping to undo the stranglehold power held over the common people living in that day.
By the grace of God people were set free from their sin and guilt through faith in Jesus Christ as they heard the Good News from God’s Word. That life-changing Good News proclaimed Jesus, the living Savior, as victor over our sin, over our earthly grave and the evil one. The Good News of the glorious Easter Resurrection saved lives for an eternity then as it does now! Let us live for God’s glory today! Let us be thankful that Jesus is the living Lord in this life and for eternal life!
This year is the 500 year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, when people experienced heart and mind transformation due to the power of the Good News of the gospel proclaimed throughout the land. In coming months we will hear more about the Reformation and its lasting impact. May we invest our lives in sharing that very power of the gospel which leads to a heart-felt desire to do what is pleasing to God and is done for God’s glory here and now.
Dear friends in Christ,
“I hope…” What a positive and encouraging thought we convey when we say to someone, “I hope the best for you…” It might be a person facing a medical test or one who is excited about a developing relationship. We offer our hope that things will turn out well. Hope is always at the beginning of a new venture or a new start. It is also at the center of a restart after things have not turned out well. Even a pessimist hopes that the anticipated failure will not be disastrous.
Hope is more than being optimistic. There is a billboard near Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, sponsored by an emergency agency that reads, “Hoping for the best is not an emergency plan.” You and I, this world, needs much more than hope for hope’s sake.
The word hope is seen, read and heard throughout Holy Scripture, appearing more than 180 times. True hope is always connected with the person of God. Hope is the primary operating word for Christians. Why? Because of Jesus, our living Savior, we are guaranteed the fulfillment of the greatest hope we can ever imagine, the hope we will one day be rid of sin and will live forever in a restored, loving relationship with our God of heaven and earth. It is the hope that transcends the grave! Jesus is the one and only true hope-giver this hopeless world has ever known.
Hope is something we have when we are anticipating what we do not have. As followers of Jesus, trusting in Him, we believe that when we die, yet shall we live. When our bodies are laid to rest, we believe we will be resurrected to eternal life. We are given the promise of this hope in the evidence of Christ’s own death and resurrection. The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 8:23-25, “We ourselves who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is not hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
Easter is a time when we celebrate the Good News of Jesus’ victory over death. No one has ever died and then come to life again to live forever except Jesus. We can rightly place our hope in Him because He has backed up what He said with what He did.
We have a living hope. It lives because Christ lives. We have a joyful hope. Our joy will be complete when we meet Jesus face to face. We can live in peaceful hope. We are at peace with God, reconciled to Him in Christ through the forgiveness of our sins, and at peace in the midst of life’s storms because we know who holds us securely in His mighty hands. We trust Him, and our trust is strengthened with the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. We overflow with hope as we share our joy of salvation with others through word and deed. This hope is powerful, so powerful that we sing, “Hallelujah, Jesus lives!” May the rest of the world hear your hope, my hope, our hope that is eternal!!
Dear friends in Christ,
Lent is almost here! Wednesday, March 1st, we begin the 2017 Lenten journey. You are invited and strongly encouraged to gather at OSLC on Ash Wednesday for worship, which includes the celebration of Holy Communion and the Imposition of Ashes, as well as the following Wednesday evenings during Lent for a new Lenten series.
This Lenten season we plan to continue to offer a new approach to the five Lenten services that follow Ash Wednesday. We are including a short message from well-known Bible teacher and historian Ray Vander Laan, followed by additional teaching from Pastor Doug. The title of the Lenten series is: The Mission of Jesus – Triumph of God’s Kingdom in a World of Chaos. Together we will be on a journey in Israel and Rome exploring what it means to be a kingdom of priests in a prodigal world by discovering the mission that God gave his people many centuries ago and how that impacts us today. Filmed on site in Israel and Rome, you will see and hear Ray Vander Laan weave together the Bible’s historical, cultural, religious and geographical contexts,providing insight into Holy Scripture’s significance for present day believers.
The 2017 Lenten schedule includes the following:
Wednesday, March 1st – Ash Wednesday Worship, 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday, March 8th – Lesson 1 Capernaum: Jesus Binds the Evil One
5:00 p.m.-6:45 p.m. OSLC Aebelskiver Supper, 7:00 p.m. Worship
Wednesday, March 15th – Lesson 2 Decapolis: The Other Side-Jesus and the Man from the Tombs
6:00 p.m.-6:45 p.m. Supper, 7:00 p.m. Worship
Wednesday, March 22nd – Lesson 3 Crucifixion: The Coronation of a King
6:00 p.m.-6:45 p.m. Supper, 7:00 p.m. Worship
Wednesday, March 29th – Lesson 4 Ascension: The King Takes His Throne
6:00 p.m.-6:45 p.m. Supper, 7:00 p.m. Worship
Wednesday, April 5th – Lesson 5 Pentecost: God Changed His Address
6:00 p.m.-6:45 p.m. Supper, 7:00 p.m. Worship
Our Sunday bulletin cover always includes the reminder that, Worship Will Never Rise Higher Than Our View Of God. Come and worship, continue to grow in the fear and knowledge of the Lord of heaven and earth. The seasons of Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, Advent and Christmas all provide wonderful opportunities for you and your family to draw closer to God, to grow in appreciation of His sacrificial love, and to continue in your own faith formation process.
God bless and guide you,
Dear friends in Christ,
During the month of January two of our Sunday gospel lessons just happened to instruct we who are God’s Church to be invested in disciple making. As most, if not all of us, know Jesus spent over three years of his earthly ministry making disciples and then instructing them to do the same as the Great Commission reminds us, “Go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19) This is our commission at OSLC as well. Jesus followed a simple process, employing five invitations, each one followed by experiences and instructions. His invitations provide us a framework for fulfilling that responsibility in the Body of Christ here in Audubon and beyond.
Invitation 1 – Come and See John 1:29-42 Those making disciples for Jesus today can draw attention to the whole life and ministry of Jesus, not just the preparation years. But making disciples still starts with the invitation to, “Come and See”.
Invitation 2 – Follow Me John 1:43-51 Following Jesus can prove to be challenging since we are encouraged to live outside of our self-imposed comfort zones. Answering the call to “Follow Me” draws the believer into a relational foundation building phase of discipleship. This phase can lead to deepening faith and a greater understanding of his kingdom work.
Invitation 3 – Come Fishing Matthew 4:12-23 For Jesus, making disciples was lifestyle based. By living among his early disciples he was cultivating a deeper relationship with them. Jesus exemplified and followed a path that was experiential, relational and participatory, not simply disseminating information. The same is true for disciple making today.
Invitation 4 -Deny Self Matthew 16:21-28 This fourth invitation is radically countercultural. Following the footsteps of Jesus means choosing a path of sacrifice and self-denial. Both disciple makers and those they lead to discipleship walk the path of self-denial.
Invitation 5-Receive the Spirit John 20:19-23 and Acts 1:1-11 Receiving the Holy Spirit draws Jesus’ disciples into replicating his mission. During Jesus’ earthly ministry he had been making disciples by inviting, modeling and equipping them in ministry and mission. Through the presence of the Spirit they were to multiply his work of disciple making.
Jesus’ five invitations referenced here are entirely compatible with our present day, postmodern ministry environments. These invitations provide us a framework based on God’s Word for making disciples who in turn make disciples! That is our goal within LCMC. That is God’s plan for us here and now!
May our almighty God strengthen and guide us as we continue to become maturing disciples of Christ and invest our lives in disciple making.
Dear friends in Christ,
With grateful hearts we welcome another new year, 2017! We have been blessed to celebrate the Christmas season reminding us of God’s saving grace that abounds each day of life we share on this earth. The baby Jesus born in Bethlehem some 2000 years ago was, is, and always will be the Savior of this sin darkened world. We now are privileged as the body of Christ to look forward to opportunities for continued spiritual growth and for living out our faith in daily life as children of God who bear the light of Christ.
It just so happens that we at OSLC will be hosting one of those amazing opportunities to grow in our faith and in our understanding of what it means to be mission minded followers of Jesus when Pastor, Teacher and Author, Bill Moberly joins us for a regional seminar, The Harvest Connection, on Saturday, January 28th from 8:30 to 1 pm. Southwest Iowa churches and community members are invited to join us when Bill will help us explore three critical questions: The Call of the Word, in particular what does the Bible says about global missions? The Need in the World, in particular what remains to be done in response to Jesus’ Great Commission to Go and Make disciples of all nations? and what does this mean for your life and your congregation, in particular the practical, personal and inspirational ways of making a difference?
Bill Moberly is Founder and Director of Awakening Lives to World Missions. He is Director of Outreach and Development for China Service Ventures. He is author of Igniting a Passion for Missions.
You are encouraged to participate. Volunteers are needed. OSLC will cover the $10 cost of your study materials and the lunch. A sign-up sheet is posted in the entryway later in December. You are welcome to visit with me to learn more.
FYI – Pastor Bill Moberly will also be present at OSLC on Sunday, January 29th providing a message on global missions and will continue to teach us more about igniting a passion for missions during the Sunday School hour in the chapel.
I am excited that Our Saviour’s Lutheran will be able to host this valuable mission learning experience. I hope to see you there.
New Year’s Blessings,
Dear friends in Christ,
A story has been published of a little girl caught in the pre-Christmas swirl of activity all of which seemed to be coming to a head on Christmas Eve. Dad, who was loaded with bundles of presents, seemed to have an even greater number of worries than usual. Mom, who was under the pressure of getting ready for the festive occasion, had yielded to tears several times during the day. The little girl herself, who was just trying to help, found that she was always under foot and sometimes parental kindness to her wore thin.
Finally, near tears herself, she was hustled off to bed. There, kneeling to pray the Lord’s Prayer before finally tumbling into the comfort of her bed, her mind and tongue betrayed her and she prayed, “forgive us our Christmases as we forgive those who Christmas against us”. Perhaps the little girl’s prayer was not such of a big mistake after all. Far too often we leave out the Christ of Christmas and fill the season with everything but Jesus, the Christ Child. Too often he is crowded out by our busy lives.
As we now approach another Christmas Day, I invite each of you to remember that the best gift of all will not be found in a package, no matter the size, but in a person who is none other than Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior! Jesus is the most valuable gift ever known to all the world!
Jesus is the reason for the season of Christmas!
Have a blessed Advent and Christmas,
Greetings from Pastor Doug,
This past October 2-5, 2016, four of us from OSLC were privileged to participate in the annual LCMC International Gathering, this year held in Denver, Colorado. Dick and Judy Baker represented our congregation as voting delegates, Julie and I were there as clergy and spouse. Thank you for continuing to send us every year to represent OSLC. I am pleased to report to you that over 800 people were present from all over the world. LCMC gatherings are unique compared to all other larger church gatherings I have been a part of for about 30 years now. Lutheran Congregations In Mission For Christ is who we are plain and simple, a reality affirmed and celebrated at each of our gatherings. We are In Mission For Christ!
Lutheran Congregations In Mission For Christ is not a denomination, but instead a movement of God’s people following His command to Go, to Do mission. We are an association of Christian Churches with a common purpose and mission. We view the local church as the place where people in the community come to get connected to God and to one another. We celebrate the fact that everyone is wired differently, which then allows each and every one of us to serve according to our own unique God-given strengths, skills and talents.
In Romans 6, St. Paul explains that those who follow Jesus receive God’s grace and are freed from being burdened by their sin. In LCMC, we celebrate that freedom in Christ. We also place a great emphasis on understanding what it means to follow Jesus, then doing it. We are Great Commission people of God!
We understand that one size does not fit all when it comes to ministry and mission because different communities often have different needs, backgrounds and cultures. Rather than micromanaging what they do, members have the freedom to be creative in how to do ministry and mission, working together to transform the lives of others and to fulfill the Great Commission that Jesus set forth in Matthew 28.
Our #1 mission as an association of churches in the body of Christ is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, both locally and globally. We are focused on strengthening the congregations we have and planting the ones we don’t have. We desire to make disciples who in turn go and make disciples. And as an association of churches we have planted 83 churches in the last 38 months!
We strive to be the light of Christ to this world, not a reflection of it. We view God’s Word as the #1 authority when it comes to our Christian faith and how we practice it. While we understand that science, personal experience, tradition and other factors contribute to the conversations that we have, we do not believe that they have equal influence to what is written in the Scriptures. God’s Word is the priority! We believe the Lutheran Confessions to be a faithful witness to the truth of Holy Scripture and that they give us reliable principles by which to guide the continued development of this association, its ministry and mission.
LCMC, Lutheran Congregations in Mission currently has 932 churches located in 17 different countries throughout the world. Over 730 of those are in the U.S. Iowa presently has 58 churches, with Elk Horn, Harlan and Adair being the closest to us. You are invited to visit lcmc.net to learn more.
Thanksgiving Blessings, Pastor Doug
Greetings from Pastor Doug,
This early October, pastor, author and researcher, Ed Stetzer, will be the keynote speaker at the Annual International LCMC Gathering in Denver, Colorado. He has recently written an article which was published in the Leadership Journal of Christianity Today titled, “Churches in America”. I personally believe that he correctly identifies and effectively communicates the present day challenges to God’s Church in America, which in turn helps us to make sense of what is going on around us and to then prayerfully seek the Lord’s lead on how to address those challenges.
In this truth telling article he states, “I believe that we are clarifying what it means to be Christian in America. Most of us realize that although about three-quarters of Americans check the Christian box when filling out a survey, they are not all genuine followers of Jesus. For many, the idea of being Christian and American are one in the same. Or they claim to be Christian because they are not Jewish, or Hindu, or Muslim, or Buddhist. But the Church defines Christian differently than the culture at large, and the distinction is an important one to make.”
Stetzer continues by stating, “I believe it is helpful to distinguish those who profess Christianity in three categories: Cultural, Congregational, and Convictional.
Cultural Christians are people who believe themselves to be Christians simply because their culture tells them they are. They are Christian by heritage. They may have religious roots in their family or may come from a people group tied to a certain religion. This group makes up around one-third of the 75% who self-identify as Christians, or about a quarter of all Americans.
Congregational Christians are similar to the first except that these individuals at least have some connection to congregational life. They have a home church they grew up in and perhaps where they were married. They might even visit occasionally. Here again though we would say that these people are not practicing any sort of real, vibrant faith. They are attendees. This group makes up another one-third of the 75%, or about a quarter of all Americans.
Convictional Christians are people who are actually living according to their faith. These are the people who would say they have met Jesus, He changed their lives, and since that time their lives have been increasingly oriented around their faith in Him. Convictional Christians make up the final third of the 75%, or about a quarter of all Americans.”
Stetzer then goes on to say, “The percentage of Convictional Christians in the U.S. population has remained generally stable if we see regular church attendance as a marker of such conviction. On the other hand, mainline Protestantism has declined, while other areas within evangelicalism have grown.
The number of committed Christians, those who are practicing a vibrant faith, are not dying off. Research tells us that Convictional Christians are not leaving the faith. Instead, the squishy middle, as I like to call it, is being compressed. At least part of this is because Christians now find themselves more and more on the margins in American society, not persecuted, but no longer central. As such, people are beginning to count the cost of being a Christian in today’s world.”
I have decided to share the results of this important research with you to encourage you to take the time for a conversation with your spouse, children, other family members, a friend or with me relating to where you find yourself within these three categories. And once you do, my question is, Do you believe there is room for growth in your faith journey? Is it reasonable to ask God to help you move in the direction of becoming a Convictional Christian if you are not one already?
Dear friends in Christ, my experience while living in large cities, in a foreign country, and in states like California and Illinois all with cultures often times hostile to the message of Christianity, they challenged me to either take a stand for Christ and live out my faith as a Christian or to compromise the gift of faith in Jesus as my Lord and Savior. It is a daily decision we must each make.
Luke 9:23 Jesus reminds us that, “If anyone would come after me, he/she must deny themselves and take us their cross daily and follow me.”
May our good and gracious God bless and guide you in His ways,
Greetings from Pastor Doug,
The first time I remember walking in my father‟s footsteps was when I was helping him drill a water well in my home town of Glen Ullin, North Dakota. I stood where he normally stood by the machine holding the cable which was attached to the drill bit deep beneath the ground level and I attempted to step into his exact footprints when he moved to take care of other important responsibilities at the well site. My father made an impression on me that not only lasted throughout my childhood and teenage years, but continues to positively impact me today!
This past July Julie and I were privileged to spend about a week hanging out with our three grandsons. Of course we thoroughly enjoyed the precious time God had provided us to hold, hug, play and pray with them. During that time together I was fully aware of the fact that we were busy making an impression on them. I have grown to love the fact that the two older grandsons can now refer to me as grandpa! I realized as well that no matter what I was saying or doing with them they were observing my words and my actions.
I have often times mentioned the known fact that dads and moms, grand-dads and grand-moms, each play a pivotal role in their kid‟s and grandkid‟s lives, especially when it comes to spiritual growth. You are your children‟s primary faith teachers whether you appreciate that fact or not. Your kids look to you to help them understand who God truly is. If your God is just the man upstairs that gets an obligatory grace at a supper table, your kids will think of God as a landlord. If however, God is your Lord and Savior, the One that you walk with in the cool of the morning and carry on a constant dialogue with throughout the day, they will see Him in that light and be drawn to Him in a similar way.
As a father of three now adult children, two of whom have their own children, I remember numerous times in their childhood and teenage years that I felt and believed that I was ill equipped to teach them by word and deed. For the record, I was far from perfect but did remain faithful to the task just as my father and mother demonstrated for me while I was growing up. Through it all, God provided, along with Julie‟s loving partnership in parenting and our faith family being there for us.
I want you to know that as the fall programing begins, we at OSLC desire to partner with you in raising God-honoring sons and daughters. Sunday, August 28th will be our Rally Sunday celebration. We will worship outdoors at our annual Praise in the Park west of the church building. Sunday School will begin on September 11th following our time of worship together when we will have a backpack blessing, present Bibles to 3rd graders and preschoolers, and install our Sunday School teachers and staff. On Sunday, September 11th we will begin an Adult Christian Education series from David Platt. It is titled, Radical, a group study of all adults.
I look forward to the fall opportunities when we can grow in faith together. God has great plans for you and for us as disciples of Christ!
See you in worship and in Sunday School,
Greetings from Pastor Doug,
This past May I shared two Sunday morning messages which included critical insights from Pastor Mark Vander Tuig, our Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ Service Coordinator, and from Pastor John Bradosky of the North American Lutheran Church, a newly formed national church body of which we share much in common. Both pastors are serving our respective church bodies in critical leadership roles.
For the July and August newsletters I have decided to revisit some of the content of their responses to the question: What are the dangers the Church is facing in North America? From their decades of vast clergy experiences they have written articles published in Connections Magazine, the May/ June 2016 issue. The July newsletter included a portion of Pastor Mark Vander Tuig’s response. This August newsletter I am including a portion of Pastor John Bradosky’s response.
Pastor John Bradosky begins by reminding us that the church is under assault from within and without. Faithful teaching has been compromised by social agendas. Biblical authority has been trumped by false assumptions regarding the superiority of contemporary wisdom. Moral issues are decided by popularity and tolerance rather than Biblical mandates. Relative truth and political correctness have become more acceptable standards than transcendent truth.
The issues of religious freedom and the rights of Christians to live their faith in every vocation are not only in jeopardy in other places around the world, but are in jeopardy here in our own country. And even though these conditions are worsening, the far greater threat to the North American Christian Church is apathy.
Apathy is slowly eroding, weakening and undermining the faith of individual believers as well as the capacity of congregations for vibrant ministry and faithful mission.
Apathy manifests itself in the following ways:
1-A loss of zeal
2-A loss of interest in the spiritual realm
3-The secularization of both the Christian and the local congregation
4-A growing hardness of the heart
Holy Scripture reminds us of the dangers of apathy. 2nd Timothy 4:3-4 reads, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” Revelation 3:2 reads, “Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of God.”
Apathy in the Church is like a cancer that destroys the Body of Christ. Apathy is a mindset described in just three words, “I don’t care.” The most profound concern about apathy is that is it incompatible with God’s love! May the Lord give us the strength and the will to overcome every apathetic response with the passion of loving Christ and loving others as He first loved us. When we do, His Body, the Church, will be a force to be reckoned with, just as He intended.
Greetings from Pastor Doug,
This past May I shared two messages which included critical insights from Pastor Mark Vander Tuig, our Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ Service Coordinator, and from Pastor John Bradosky of the North American Lutheran Church, a newly-formed national church body of which we share much in common. Both pastors are serving our respective church bodies in critical leadership roles.
For the July and August newsletters I have decided to revisit some of the content of their responses to the question: What are the dangers the Church is facing in North America? From their decades of vast clergy leadership experiences they have written articles published in Connections Magazine, the May/June 2016 issue. The August newsletter will include a portion of Pastor John Bradosky’s response.
Pastor Mark Vander Tuig stresses the fact that there are three major threats to our nation and our Christian churches which are:
1-The Rapid Pace Of Change
He writes, “Everything changes all the time, but the pace of change has escalated at a rate never seen before. Information overload can dull our senses and lead us to withdraw. One of the most dramatic changes we are facing today drives us back to the 1st century which means that each of us who follows Jesus must accept the fact that we are ambassadors for Christ. We are still surrounded by people who want to know about the Way, the Truth and the Life, and they are waiting for us to have an answer for the hope that is ours in Christ Jesus. The days of having the pastor be the witness in our communities are over. Each of us is called to find our place in fulfilling the Great Commission. Either we give in to the resistance to change and die, or we allow the Holy Spirit to breathe new life into each follower of Jesus.”
2-Narcissism It’s All About Me
He writes, “Our culture is centered on the individual, and whatever I want, I should have. If it is illegal, let’s change the law; if it’s not good for me, let’s decide that it is; and if it’s wrong, let’s simply say that it is right. The ultimate authority in life is now my personal happiness and nothing else matters. We live in what many would call the wealthiest nation on earth. People who have everything apparently don’t need God. Sadly, this narcissism also affects those within the Christian church. American culture has created a consumer mindset among many churchgoers. Our culture is being crushed by the demands of individuals for the right to happiness and acceptance, entitled to everything and responsible for nothing.”
3-Syncretism It’s All The Same God
He writes, “One of the most dramatic challenges for the church today is the idea that all religions point to exactly the same god and all of them are good. The exclusive claim of Jesus, that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, is being swallowed up by the variety of religious beliefs and experiences. Syncretism is a means by which to assimilate other gods into religions so that it all becomes one. Religion is now a smorgasbord of all kinds so people pick and choose to create something that meets their interests. In this world it’s more about being spiritual than being faithful.”
Brothers and sisters in Christ, hold fast to the gift of our Christian faith in God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. Remember always “to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2) Never forget that, “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
Greetings from Pastor Doug,
The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 5:16, “Be very careful how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity (redeem the time), because the days are evil.”
The message I provided this past May 1st has received a fair amount of feedback, mostly positive feedback that is. One of the major points I stressed comes to us from St. Paul in this Bible passage that we are to use time wisely, redeem the time God graciously provides.
Did you know that in a lifetime the average North American will spend:
Six months sitting at stoplights,
Eight months opening junk mail,
One year looking for misplaced objects,
Two years unsuccessfully returning phone calls,
Five years waiting in lines,
Six years eating and
Twenty one years consuming television/movies/electronic instruments.
Of course there may be some adjustments needed when it comes to living in rural America verses a more heavily populated part of the country.
Redeem the time God graciously provides. What would you do if each morning your banking account held $100,000 for you to spend or invest in your relationship with God, your family and others our Lord surrounds you with? No balance would be allowed to be carried over into the next day. Any leftover balance would be deleted each evening. Now what would you do when you find out that you would not use all of your daily balance every day? I am fairly certain most of us would be disappointed in ourselves.
Time is infinitely more valuable than money ever will be. And because we value time so much, most of us attempt to save time or manage time. Interestingly, when it comes to the Bible, we do not find much of an emphasis on saving or managing time. Yes, we are all called to be good stewards of all that God has given us which includes time. But, more than that, in the words of St. Paul we are to redeem the time.
Redeem the time means that we use it wisely, looking for every opportunity to not only count the minutes, hours, days, months and years, but make the minutes, hours, days, months and years count. Tomorrow we will be given twenty four more hours, but we may never have the same opportunities today provided.
One day our time on this earth will come to an end. We will then be asked to give an account of how we used the gift of time that was given to each and every one of us. We will not be asked how well we saved time or managed time. However, we will be asked how well we did in Redeeming The Time God sent our way! Redeeming precious time developing your own faith, quality time shared with spouse, children and other family members, valuable time spent in the workplace as well as serving others.
As we enter the summer months may the Holy Spirit guide us in order that we make time count for His glory.
Greetings from Pastor Doug,
Easter was celebrated weeks ago. Has that victory celebration proven to be life-changing? Has it made a difference in how you are living life today and your perspective on what the future holds? We, in God’s Church, formally celebrate this glorious, life-transforming event for seven full weeks each year leading up to the Pentecost celebration. We, as Easter people, rejoice in the fact that not only does Jesus victory over the earthly grave give us hope for today, but more importantly for an eternity. Does Easter have a lasting effect on life as we know it, in particular our Christian walk, or is it just another holiday on our yearly calendar?
What is Easter anyway? It’s a strange question to be heard in the upper mid-west as it would be in other parts of this country. This question was part of a conversation that took place between two young employees of a fast food restaurant. The manager approached the girls asking if they would be willing to work on Easter. They were to get back to her with their answer. After she left, one of the girls asked the other if Easter was on a Saturday, to which the second replied, “Sunday, that’s why it’s called Easter Sunday.” “Oh,” came the reply, “Well, what is Easter anyway?”
Her friend answered, “It’s when Jesus was born isn’t it – oh no that’s not right, that’s Christmas.” Having struggled long enough with the question, she concluded, “I guess we will just celebrate the Easter Bunny.”
The angel also had a question that first Easter morning, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5). The grieving women came to the tomb to anoint the lifeless body of Jesus. His death, as they saw it, was the end. Their dreams had been dashed, or so they thought. They came to the grave in sorrow, but left with the angel’s news of life, news which has been reverberating around the world for more than 2,000 years. “He is risen! He is risen indeed!”
That morning that we call the first Easter was a declaration of victory. “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” (1st Corinthians 15:55). The grave could not keep Jesus. With His death, Jesus paid the penalty for us, and His resurrection proved Him to be the victorious conqueror over sin, death and the evil one.
That glorious morning defined life for us, we who are followers of Jesus. Romans 8:11 gives us the assurance that, “If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” The Good News is that His resurrection gives us the promise of new life while in our earthly bodies, and the promise of life everlasting with Him, a present and future hope we celebrate Easter Sunday, today, tomorrow and for an eternity.
It is my prayer that the two young employees will come to learn that Easter is not only about finding eggs and baskets, it’s about being found by the One the tomb could not hide. It’s not only about chocolate rabbits, it’s about the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. It’s not only about new dresses and hats, it’s about new life for today and into eternity for all who believe in our resurrected Savior and Lord.
A celebration of victory, power and life, that’s what Easter is all about! Let’s live our lives celebrating this Good News. Let’s live our lives sharing this Good News with others!
Greetings from Pastor Doug,
Easter, why is it so significant? Why does the resurrection matter? Millions of people throughout the entire world will be celebrating Easter this March 27th. Some of those individuals will consider the account of Christ’s crucifixion, death and resurrection as merely an interesting story or a myth. We Christians should know the facts surrounding the Biblical account of our Lord Jesus and the empty tomb.
Why do we need to know? Why is Christ’s resurrection from the dead so important to us? Here are four reasons why, four Biblical truths that make all the difference in this world and for an eternity:
1 – Without the resurrection our faith is useless. 1st Corinthians 15:17 states, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” Without Christ’s resurrection, we would still be condemned by our sin. St. Paul continues in verse 18 by stating, “Then those who have already died in Christ would be considered lost.”
2 – Christ’s resurrected body was seen by hundreds of eyewitnesses. Jesus’ resurrection was not witnessed by just one or two individuals but by scores of people as indicated in verses 5-7 of that same chapter. He was seen alive by more than 500 eyewitnesses at one time, plus others on at least seven different occasions during the 40 days prior to his ascension into heaven.
3 – Christ’s resurrected body was physical, not merely spiritual. The Bible is clear about the resurrected body. It was the same body that had been in the tomb. In verse 42 we read, “The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable.” Later in chapter 15 we hear St. Paul boldly stating, “Death has been swallowed up in victory…thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” On four separate occasions Jesus was either touched or offered to be touched to prove he was physically in their presence. He also ate food with others various times in his resurrected body.
4 – The resurrection changed lives. Christ’s resurrection from the dead transformed the lives of the disciples. What turned a group of frightened men into fearless missionaries overnight? It was seeing Jesus in the flesh after the crucifixion and then 50 days after the resurrection the power of the Holy Spirit bestowed upon them.
In John 14:19, Jesus gives us a clear reason why we can and do rejoice in the resurrection account when he said, “Because I live, you also will live!” That is the Good News of the Gospel of our Living Lord Jesus, the Redeemer of this world!
May Easter blessings abound in your lives as Easter people saved by the grace of our living Savior for, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever”. Hebrews 13:8
Greetings from Pastor Doug,
Please take note of the following list showing our liturgical calendar and the parament colors that accompany the church year. We are truly blessed to continue to receive gifts toward updating each set of paraments at OSLC for the coming church year.
Advent — Blue — Blue signifies hope, reflecting an emphasis on waiting in hope for the coming of the Savior, the Lord incarnate.
Christmas — White — White signifies joy and celebration. A Savior is born, a King has come.
Epiphany — Green — Green signifies growth in mission knowing the Light of the world has come to us in the person of Jesus Christ.
Lent — Purple — Purple signifies penitence and self-denial, a time for reflection and repentance as one approaches the passion of the Christ.
Easter — White — White signifies the joy of the resurrection of the Savior who has come to save us from our sins. It is the best news this world has ever known.
Pentecost — Red — Red signifies the Holy Spirit whose fire rouses our life of faith. The rest of Pentecost season is green as the church grows and develops its mission.
Even though the church year begins with the season of Advent in late November or early December, I would like to call your attention to the Lenten season and the upcoming Easter celebration. We are currently living out our faith journey in the midst of a season of self-examination, reflection and repentance, contemplating the sacrifice Christ has made for each of us on the cross of Calvary. Lent is a time to prepare our hearts and minds for the most important event in all of Christendom, Jesus’ death and resurrection from the dead. As Easter people we are privileged to celebrate God’s saving grace this coming Easter Sunday and every Sunday throughout the year.
Our church year revolves around this victorious event which is the foundation of our Christian faith. Without the Good News of the resurrection of our Lord and Savior we would have nothing to base our faith, hope and future upon, nothing to look forward to after this life on earth.
So then, as we anticipate the Easter celebration this March 27th, I invite you to continue during these 40 days of Lent to worship, pray, fast, meditate and reflect upon how God is transforming you and us in faith. The Lenten schedule is printed in this newsletter. Your participation can be life changing!
May we seek to honor and serve the Lord Jesus, the One who willingly sacrificed His life for our lives!
Greetings from Pastor Doug,
Lent is almost here! It may be hard to believe that the Epiphany season has begun and before we know it Lent will arrive. Wednesday, February 10th, we begin the 2016 Lenten journey. You are invited to gather on Ash Wednesday for worship, which includes the celebration of Holy Communion and the Imposition of Ashes, as well as the following Wednesday evenings throughout Lent.
This Lenten season we plan to continue with a new approach, as we did last year, to the five Lenten mid-week services that follow Ash Wednesday. We are including a 30 minute message from the well-known Bible teacher and historian, Ray Vander Laan followed by additional instruction from Pastor Doug. It will be another way for us to use the projection system as we grow in faith and our understanding of what it means to be a follower of Christ. The title of the Lenten series is, Israel’s Mission – Becoming a Kingdom of Priests in a Prodigal World. Filmed in Israel, you will see and hear Ray Vander Laan weave together the Bible’s historical, cultural, religious and geographical contexts, providing insight into Holy Scripture’s significance for present day believers. If there is interest, each DVD faith lesson will also be available during the Sunday morning S/S hour in the month of March as well.
The 2016 Lenten schedule includes the following:
Wednesday, February 10th – Ash Wednesday worship with Holy Communion and Imposition of Ashes, 7:00 p.m. Worship
Wednesday, February 17th – Lesson 1 “Abraham and Sarah and Three Strangers” filmed in Tel Arad in the Negev Wilderness, 5-6:45 p.m. OSLC Aebleskiver Supper, 7pm Worship
Wednesday, February 24th – Lesson 2 “Israel at Sinai: The First Great Commission” filmed at Mount Timnah in the Desert of Paran, 6:00 p.m. Supper, 7:00 p.m. Worship
Wednesday, March 2nd – Lesson 3 “Jesus Renews the Mission: Seeking the Lost” filmed in the reconstructed village of Qatzrin, 6:00 p.m. Supper, 7:00 p.m. Worship
Wednesday, March 9th – Lesson 4 “The Lost Son: In a Far Country” filmed at Jerash, first century Gerasa, 6:00 p.m. Supper, 7:00 p.m. Worship
Wednesday, March 16th – Lesson 5 “The Seeking Father: The Lost Son” Returns filmed in the region of Decapolis, 6:00 p.m. Supper, 7:00 p.m. Worship
God gave a command to His people thousands of years ago: bring lost sheep back into the love and safety of His kingdom. It remains our responsibility today. In this 13th volume of That The World May Know, Israel’s Mission, we are given a glimpse of the urgency and the rewards of welcoming strangers and prodigals the Lord longs to embrace. You are invited to come, discover the mission that can give your life, and the lives of those around you, greater meaning than you ever imagined.
May the 40 day Lenten journey transform our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord!