January 2017 Newsletter

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A New Year of Hope   We have a New Year coming. There are only sixteen more days in 2016 now that I started on this article. It seems that we are always hoping for better days. And in December we continue to look to the future. We start to think about all the things that we did and assess them, especially between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. This is especially true for those of us who write down our New Year’s resolutions. We want to see if we accomplished our goals for the year. It’s appropriate to look back and see if a goal was accomplished when the rime set for it is coming to an end.   I pray you did well with your resolutions if you made them. I also pray that 2017 will be a blessed year for you. And as a new year approaches our hope seems to get stronger. It is always this way. We hope for a good year for our favorite sports teams. And we hope for a good year for our investments. We also hope for a good year for our families. And you could keep going on and on.   The writer of Hebrews writes about hope.   Hebrews 6:16-20 People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.   “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” God has anchored us in the hope of eternal life in his kingdom. This means that as we hope we are unable to be moved back and forth, tossed on the sea of doubt with no hope of rescue. We need not doubt because we have already been saved! Our salvation comes with the death of Jesus. And if it ended there we would have no hope. But it did not. It ended with the risen Lord.   We now know that heaven is our destiny because of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. And so, we have a hope for the future. And this hope is unlike our hope for ourselves in 2017. It is a hope that is anchored in the promise of God. God promised that the child of the woman would crush the head of Satan. He did on the cross. God promised that the descendants of Abraham would be as numerous as the sands of the seashore or even the stars of the sky. And he kept that promise with every baptized child being known as a child of Abraham. How, because Abraham believed and so does the baptized child.   Some have had a hard 2016. Others although it was not...

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October Newsletter – Learn + Lead + Love + Cross

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This month I give you an article from the Rural and Small Town Mission Newsletter from August 2016 written by Bruce Sutherland on overcoming outreach distraction. There is an old story about a peasant who was caught stealing from his king. The peasant lived in a small village that was a journey of several days from the king’s castle. After being caught, the guilty man was promptly locked up in the village prison to await a public hanging the following week. In the meantime, the king heard of this peasant’s great remorse and with compassion the king decided to send a messenger to the far-off village with an undeserved pardon for the thief. The king gave clear instruction to his messenger to proceed directly to the peasant’s village. Along the way, however, the messenger made frequent stops to attend to other matters and took alternate paths. By the time he reached the peasant’s village he was shocked to discover the sentence was carried out two days earlier. And so it is with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the pardon for humanity He has generously offered. He has called us as His ambassadors to deliver a lifesaving message to our fellow criminals. The fact is we aren’t much different than the messenger. When it comes to sharing the story of Christ crucified, we hesitate; we procrastinate; and sometimes we flat out wander from the task at hand. As God’s ambassadors we realize the Lord doesn’t need us to save anyone, but He does give us the great privilege of carrying His pardon for humanity. As a perpetual procrastinator, I often wonder how I can stay better focused. Let’s look to Christ and His example. In John 4:7–26 we see Jesus on a mission to deliver a pardon to the Samaritan woman. One way to look at this passage is to see L.L.L.C. (Learn, Lead, Love and Cross). LEARN (verse 7): Jesus is on a mission and He starts a conversation in order to LEARN more about this woman. One of the easiest things we can do is to learn about and serve our neighbors. LEAD (verse 10): Jesus is the one who takes the LEAD to change the conversation from simple friendly stuff to spiritual matters. We should take the lead to transition the conversation to things eternal. We don’t need to wait for them because we may be waiting a long, long time. LOVE (verses 16–18): Jesus is continuing the conversation, and you will start to see both Law and Gospel unfold. Why do we need to talk about sin? It’s so that people see their need for a Savior. LOVE rejoices with the truth (1 Cor. 13:6), and the truth is we need to be perfect or forgiven. The Law helps people see that human perfection is impossible. CROSS (verse 26): Jesus knows her repentant heart and reveals himself as Messiah, which points to the CROSS. In turn we share Christ crucified (1 Cor. 1:23) so that all may know the love of Jesus. LEARN, LEAD, LOVE and CROSS are markers along a journey we can use to stay on track and not get distracted. God bless, Pastor...

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September Newsletter – Fellowship

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Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Luke tells us this after he reports that three-thousand were added to their number, the church, on that day. And after being baptized they devoted themselves to all of the things that are mentioned above. Fellowship. It is a word used in churches meaning time spent together. And it brings into mind everything the church does, teaching, breaking bread, and prayer etc. And so as September begins let’s look at the things starting again that we can do together. Luke says, they devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching. River Ministries is starting back up on the 6th and will be teaching young children the apostles’ teaching. As we continue to reach out to our own children as well as many other children in the Kouts neighborhood and teach them. (By the way, we are in need of a teacher for the 3 to 5-year-old children. If you are interested in teaching these children, please call Suellen Boomer.) They devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching. We are restarting the Bible Study on Wednesday afternoon. This will start on September 14. This is because I will be out of town on the fourth Wednesday. It will move to the fourth Wednesday in October. We will be studying the “Fruit of the Spirit, Love, Joy, Peace.” To start out. If it goes well and we have the time we can add the second Wednesday as well. Another chance for fellowship is on September 18 when we will have our annual picnic at Drazier Park here in Kouts. For those of you who don’t know where Drazier Park is, it is on the west side of SR 49 in Kouts on Daumer Road. It is on the south end of town. We will kick off our picnic with a service at 11:00a in the park. There will not be a 9:00a service in the church. Please note the time change on your calendar. Come and fellowship with us! They devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching. On September 25 confirmation classes will begin at 10:45a in the Parish Hall. We are looking forward to the fellowship time together as well as finishing the instruction of our five students, whom will be confirmed next year. And of course there is always the time for breaking of the bread. We have Holy Communion every weekend. So that is four times a month. Sometimes five and even six times a month. And finally, they devoted themselves to prayer. Every time we meet is a time for prayer. It is a time to call upon God to bless our fellowship, to help us through our struggles and to strengthen us to bring his grace, mercy and peace to the world. Let us all devote ourselves to the apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and to prayer. Our Lord Jesus grant it, Pastor...

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August Newsletter- Community

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Community Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Let me first say that if you are reading this and you are one of the people who has given up meeting together in any church, shame on you. Now if that convicts you of your guilt, please also remember that you have been forgiven through the work of Jesus’ atonement for you on the cross. Now you should really get back to church for your own sake as well as others for you are a part of a community much larger than where you reside. We come to worship as a community to encourage one another. We want to do this so that we can continue the work that God has set before us to do. Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. And there is plenty to do. We need to bring Christ to our community, here at Saint Paul and at home where we live. We need to tell the story of Jesus. We need to bring his forgiveness and love to all. And we are always asking how. We have talked about this before, but I really believe that we need to have it repeated every once in a while. Why? Because it’s hard to know when is the right time to talk about Jesus to people who do not go to church and do not desire to go. And so let us go back to some training that a few people from our church had when the Lutheran Hour Ministries “Equipping to Share” came here. They said that the best way to spread the word is to get to know the people who live around you. Sit outside your home in the cool of the evening on your front porch and wave to all who walk by. Or go for a walk and wave at the people sitting on their porches. They will eventually greet you if not right away. And with that there is a start to a relationship. They may eventually ask you about our church. This is the moment you can invite them to join us. Be sure to be here on the same day as they say they will come because they will be looking for you. This is what our community is all about. Building relationships with others to bring them to Christ. How about if you live in an area where there are few homes, like southern Porter County. Well then, greet the people you meet when you go to the store, or when you are involved with other people. Get to know them. And just like above, eventually you will have an opportunity to pray for them, invite them to church, and worship with them. By the way, people will go to a church where they have been invited. And remember to keep meeting together. The author of Hebrews tells us it is to encourage one another. We need encouragement to carry on. We need encouragement to build the body...

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July Newsletter- Independence Day

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INDEPENDENCE DAY This month the United States of America will be celebrating 240 years of independence declared on July 4, 1776. The forefathers of our nation declared themselves to be an independent nation from England. It is also our day of freedom, and we celebrate it all across our nation. Most cities, towns, villages, etc. will set off fireworks at the end of their celebrations. There might even be a festival in some of these communities. We will celebrate. But there is an earlier “Independence Day” that is far more important to celebrate. It happened in the spring of the year on the day we call “Good Friday.” Hear the words of Saint Paul who tells you the importance of that day, It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1). It was on the cross that your freedom was won, and Jesus set you free. It was freedom from the yoke of slavery, a slavery to sin, to death. You could not break the bonds of it. You and I were doomed and enslaved. Then we look at that glorious Independence Day and what God gives us in Christ, and we see that all sins are forgiven. We aren’t bonded to slavery, sin, and death. We are set free. So what do we do with that freedom? Well, like the United States shares the story of its independence on July 4 every year, we share the story of what it means to be independent of the slavery to sin. We share the story of Jesus and Good Friday (a Christian’s Independence Day). We live under that freedom won for us, and we are inspired to share the story. For the truth is, we want all to know this freedom from sin. We want others to be brought into Jesus’ family and out of slavery. I therefore encourage you, this month, and especially on July 4, the U.S. Independence Day, to remember your Christian Independence Day. The day Jesus set you free.   God bless,   Pastor Bob...

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June Newsletter – Where Are You Going?

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Where are you going? This is a question that we ask many of our friends when they say they are going on a vacation. As parents we might say we are going to an amusement park which also has water slides. Or perhaps camping at a national park. As a married couple with no kids we might say that we are going to the Smithsonian Institution. Or some would say I am going to North Carolina to go golfing. Some will stay home and the only places they will go is to the doctor’s office, Valparaiso, some might go as far as Chesterton, Indiana Dunes State Park, and others may go to Michigan City, or even Bass Lake. There are so many things to do and see in this country alone that we could spend a lifetime going to the many amusement parks, or campgrounds, as well as national parks, museums, and even golf courses. And even around here in Northwest Indiana there is much to do, from Hammond to South Bend and from Chesterton to Lafayette. But let’s repeat the question, “Where are you going?” When you respond in faith you say, I’m on a journey through this “valley of the shadow of death” Psalm 23:4a to be brought home by my saving God, Jesus Christ. And some of you will ask how do I get there? It’s not on a map, or even in my GPS, (Global Positioning System). Some may even say it’s the BIBLE (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth). And yet, the BIBLE does not give you instructions in every situation. Yet, Jesus does tell us how to get there. He says, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” John 14:6a. You can’t do anything to get there on your own. You won’t make it without going through Jesus and his forgiveness won for you. He is your GPS or map. He guides you through the forgiveness of the cross, which leads to eternal life in heaven. This is what we can tell others who ask us why we go to church. We can respond with, “We’re on a journey to heaven, and Jesus and his cross are our guides. He will bring us to himself and bless us with the glories of heaven.” So let’s ask the question one more time, “Where are you going?” Your servant in Christ Jesus, Pastor...

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April Newsletter 2016 – Final Instructions

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It’s getting closer to the end of the school year. Our River Ministries Children’s Program will be winding down and giving the final instructions for the year. The seniors in high school and college don’t have many classes left and are closing in on their teachers last instructions for their courses before they take their final exams. And many others also receive final instructions in the careers etc. The term “final instructions” is also used with one’s Last Will and Testament. It is that list of things not covered in the rest of the will. It may contain, bank account numbers, life insurance account numbers, passwords and/or pin numbers, and perhaps where to find the key to the safety deposit box or where these things and other things might be found. It is as it says “final instructions.” Interesting enough our Word of God is divided into two parts, the Old Testament, and the New Testament. And that is to be understood as a Last Will and Testament. So it is not surprising to find Jesus giving “final instructions” to his disciples after his resurrection from the dead and before returning to his Father.  Acts1:4-8 On one occasion, while [Jesus] was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Verse 6 above shows you that they were still in need of some instruction. After Jesus rose from the dead he spent forty days on earth, giving his final instructions to his disciples. He walked with them and instructed them. As we enter our Easter season of the church year, we look forward to the instructions we will receive from Jesus. We start with why we have his written Word, “so that we might believe.” Then we move to the forgiveness of Peter and a command to follow Jesus. Learning and following Jesus’ word is how we do this. We then are reminded of the fact that our God, Jesus, is our Good Shepherd who lays down his life for us. And we follow that with Jesus telling us that he will send the Holy Spirit to us. It is Holy Spirit that leads us through the instructions of the Lord helping us to remember Jesus’ instructions. And then we are instructed that we can pray. And on the last Sunday in April this year we are reminded to pray and ask from the Father, and one thing that we ask is that we, as well as others, may continue to have peace in Jesus and the forgiveness and everlasting life he gives us. In this Easter season of 2016 I pray we hear God’s instruction to us. We can come and hear of his forgiveness when we...

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January 2016 Newsletter

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Hope Rising Another year is beginning. What will it bring? Will it bring more of the same as last year? Will things get worse? Or, will things start to get better?   There is always hope on the horizon for all of us. We especially get these feelings for our favorite sports teams at the beginning of the season. “This could be the year,” we say. And as the season goes on we are confirmed in our hope or disappointed. It’s a fact of life that in sports we have to deal with if it ends up that “our team” is not the champion. But it’s different in life, and much different in our lives as Christians.   There is reason to be optimistic even if the world is not going to be optimistic.  There is a glimpse of hope on the horizon for us. Psalm 9:18 But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish. If we want to look at us as being the needy, of which we are. We are in need of God’s love and protection. We are in need of his forgiveness and salvation. There is hope for us. As we are reminded here, God will never forget us. And there is more, “we will never perish.” Those two phrases are hope increasing phrases. We read them and our hope increases.   As we look at ourselves in this world we know that we have hope for a future with our Lord. And even if the world is in turmoil we look to our hope, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and we know that he will never forget us and that we will never perish. It is he who has promised and fulfilled this for us.   So as we move into 2016 let us look forward to a year where we can and always will have hope in our God. Let us look to Him for all of our comfort. And may our 2016 be a blessed one.   In the Hope of Christ with you, Pastor...

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September / October Newsletter

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By Grace, By Faith, By Scripture As the school year starts it’s a good time for review. And with Reformation day approaching on October 31, it would be a good time to review the basics of the Lutheran Faith. On October 31, 2015 it will be 498 years since that day when Martin Luther posted his 95 thesis to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. The main topic of the thesis was the selling of indulgences for forgiveness. But forgiveness is a free gift from the giver to the forgiven and should not cost us. So this event of posting the 95 thesis started the Reformation in the church. And out of it came our solid teaching. Here are three phrases that summarize the teaching: By Grace alone, by Faith alone, by Scripture alone. All three of these come in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. There is no other way to salvation. It is by God’s grace alone that you are saved. It doesn’t depend on you doing anything. It depends upon the work of Jesus Christ and the cross. Sin had to be paid for with death, ours and everybody else. The cross is the payment. And since that event has already happened you have already received and will continue to receive God’s grace through Christ forever. And He rose from the dead and lives eternally. You too have this eternal life through Him. It is by faith alone that you are saved. As God has created faith in you to believe in His Son Jesus, this faith has saved you. For you trust in God’s way of saving you. It is the faith in you that believes Jesus has paid it all and there is nothing you can do to make Him not love you. The sin is already forgiven by God’s grace alone! And it is by Scripture alone. This is the written Word of God. And Jesus is the Word of God. So you are saved by God’s word and promise fulfilled in the work of His Son. This is why it is so important to be in His Word. It is the promise spelt out for us. We are in need of His Word. It helps us to answer the question of, “Does God still love me?” And the answer in Scripture is a resounding “Yes!” And so these three are the basis of our faith here at Saint Paul Lutheran Church. We believe what is taught us, that we are saved by Grace alone, Faith alone, and Scripture alone. Thank you, God! July / August Newsletter The Hostas are getting bigger in the front yard, growing you would say. A tree was planted in the front yard just in front of the house on the north side. It was supposed to stay short and yet it grew and grew. It was reaching up for the light. It got too big and blocked the light therfore it was cut down. Jesus talks about growing too, Mark 4:26b-29 “A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head....

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Peace Among the Chaos

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As we begin November some of us begin to think about all of the things that we need to do in order to get ready for the holidays. And Christmas Day begins to weigh heavy upon our minds. The Hallmark channel will start showing their Christmas movies starting this month, November, and even show some classic movies, (with Cary Grant etc.) on Thursday nights. And yet there is another day that needs to be remembered, Thanksgiving Day. It can seem like our celebration of Thanksgiving has become a little bump in the road. It should not be! It also weighs heavy upon our minds. Which family member is hosting the dinner? How many are coming? Will we have enough food? (In most cases the answer is ‘yes.’) Will we be able to send the leftovers home with everybody so nothing spoils? We should look at Paul and his letter to the Philippians on this, Phil 4:11b I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. If there is too much food etc., oh well. Let’s make sure everyone has a good time. Let’s pray and give thanks to God for all of his blessings over the year. Isn’t that what Thanksgiving is all about? And then like Paul we can, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” Phil 4:4a It is right that we should pray, thank and live rejoicing and with contentment, even if the turkey isn’t done in time and we have to wait a little longer to eat. Even if we don’t know what our daughter or son or loved one wants for Christmas yet. Even if we will be having turkey casserole, turkey soup and turkey surprise for the next two weeks or even more. Perhaps we should start off Thanksgiving right by coming to church on November 26 at 7:00p to celebrate our National Day of Thanksgiving. For there is one place where we receive forgiveness, grace mercy and love from our God and Father through his son Jesus Christ. And these are things to be thankful for. And then with the peace of knowing that God has made everything right with him, we can be content in everything and in every situation even if we do not seem to be ready. God grant all of you his peace, Pastor...

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