The Church Blog

Here are updates from First Lutheran Church.

One of the topics I get a lot of questions about is the will of God. People often wonder what God wants for their lives. Sometimes these decisions can be life altering. People often wonder: “Should I switch jobs? Should I move? Should we buy a house? Should we have a (or another) child?”

These are tough calls. The Bible doesn’t outright give answers to these questions. So how are we to decide what to do?

In the Lord’s Prayer, we pray: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” But how do I know if what I want is what God wants? Martin Luther once wrote the following regarding that section of the Lord’s Prayer.

“How is God’s will done? God’s will is done when He breaks and hinders every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature, which do not want us to hallow God’s name or let His kingdom come; and when He strengthens and keeps us firm in His Word and faith until we die. This is His good and gracious will.”

There is a lot to unpack there, but I find that as I read through Luther’s words, I see that our God is at work. He is not idle. Our God is actively working to break and hinder the plans of Satan. God is actively strengthening and keeping us in the one true faith by the power of the Holy Spirit. Notice, God’s will is done when He does something. He doesn’t depend on us. We depend on Him. He conforms us to His will. I think in essence, we can say this: when we are strengthened and kept by God’s Word, we are on the right track.

If, in the choice you are making, one path will lead you away from God and His Word, that’s bad. God doesn’t want that. If one path will clearly lead you toward God and His word, that’s good. God longs for that.

Of course, sometimes it is not as clear cut as that, especially with the big decisions of life. And obviously, we cannot always see how things will play out, but we can rely on God and His presence and His promises to lead us in our decisions, no matter how big or how small.

God’s blessings on your week.

Pastor Andy

  

Sometimes, it is good to just remind the congregation of a few things that don’t always get mentioned. I’d like to remind you all of our website and some of the useful resources you will find.

Online Giving

Sunday Mornings can be hectic. You might not remember to grab your offering envelopes or your checkbook. One option for our members, guests, and friends is to give online. If you go here: Simply Giving Online Give/Donate,  you will be taken to a secure site where you can make a one-time donation or set up a recurring donation for weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly giving. Several people in the congregation are already doing this. Stephanie and I utilize this resource because it ensures that the first fruits of our labor go to the Lord and His work and that we won’t forget or make up some excuse to not give. I would highly encourage you to give this some thought and prayer.

Sermons

If you are out of town and happen to miss a Sunday, or you just really want to listen to a sermon again, they are all archived on our website as well. If you go on this link: Pastor's Page, it will take you to a list of my articles from First Notes and links to previous sermons will show up on the right side of the screen.

Facebook

Here is a link to our Facebook page. We use the page as a way to communicate announcements, events, and share encouragement with our church and preschool community.

That’s all for now. If you need any help navigating these things, let me know. I’m happy to help.

God’s blessings on your week.

Pastor Andy

Last week we began a new Sunday morning Bible study on the book of 1 Corinthians. It was wonderful to see some new faces join us. I hope you found it encouraging and edifying.

For those of you who are not regular attenders of Sunday morning adult Bible study, but now find you’re not sure what to do with yourself as your kids or grandkids are in Sunday School, allow me to explain what you can expect in Bible study.

Typically, we work through a section of the Bible together. Sometimes it’s just one chapter per session, sometimes a bit more than that. There is nothing you need to prepare beforehand. There’s no homework or pop quizzes. Our studies are often a series on a specific book of the Bible, but each session is self-contained. You don’t need to come every week to understand what’s happening. You won’t be lost if you miss a week. I give each person a handout with some questions to guide the conversation. Some of the questions are content questions to help us understand what is going on in the reading. Some of the questions are application questions, more related to life today.

You are always welcome to ask questions. I may or may not know the answer, but I’ll do my best to find the answers.

Ultimately, our time in Bible study is a time to see how God has spoken to His people of old and how God’s Word continues to speak to our lives. Sometimes I’ll have useful insights for the group. Sometimes you will have useful insights for the group. Each week we will walk together through the Bible with open ears, ready to listen to God’s words of promise and forgiveness.

God’s blessings on your week.

Pastor Andy

One of the things that has been on my mind a lot lately is how to help with the transition of having our Sunday School kids in worship throughout the whole service. I’ve had a lot of ideas, some of them better than others. I’ve heard several ideas from many of you which I have been grateful for.

One thing you will notice me doing with more regularity in the coming weeks is explaining parts of the service. These moments won’t be scripted in the bulletin, but they will hopefully be opportunities for the kids to get a down to earth explanation of what is happening, and perhaps the adults will learn a few things as well.

I also plan to have a time for prayer requests on the second Sunday of each month. Instead of writing out the prayers beforehand, I’ll ask the congregation if there are any prayer requests, write them down, and pray for them. I want to do this for many reasons, but one is to show that we are a community that cares for one another, that brings our burdens and our joys before the Lord and before each other so that we can share in those burdens and joys together. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”

Finally, I plan to have an insert for sermon notes. I personally have a hard time listening to sermons without taking notes. As our youngest members begin listening to sermons for the first time, they may find it helpful to jot some things down or draw a picture. You may find that helpful too. And since it is an insert, you can take it home with you and maybe even hang it on your refrigerator.

Thanks again for your patience as we move forward together in faith.

God’s blessings on your week.

Pastor Andy

This week we start an exciting journey. For the first time in about a decade, our Sunday School kids will be in the entire worship service with us. They will have time for a fuller lesson (with a new curriculum that I hear is stellar). There will be a few new Sunday School teachers.

The kids also will get the opportunity to listen to the Bible readings, hear the sermon, confess the Creed, and participate in the prayers and the offering. For many of these kids, this will be one of the first times they have been a part of these important moments of worship.

To help facilitate this change, I have a few words of encouragement.

  1. Be patient.

When you do something for the first time, it is simultaneously exciting and nerve-wracking. I don’t expect our kids to be perfectly behaved and neither should you. I expect them to be kids who are learning something new. They will probably have questions. As a congregation, let’s work together to teach them, lead them, and answer their questions with patience. Let’s try our best not to give parents or kids dirty looks or yell at kids for misbehaving. Let’s share with them the joy we find in worship as we get to hear the good news of God’s promises.

  1. Help them follow along.

Some of our parents and grandparents have several children they are looking after. This is the first time in a long time they’ll have to do that for a full hour of worship. Don’t be afraid to sit with a family and help out a little bit. Some of our Sunday School kids may wish to sit with other families and build relationships with them (with their parents’ permission of course). That’s great! Worshiping together as a family is wonderful. Some parents and children really take joy in that experience. I know I did. My sister loved sitting with Grandpa Jack and Grandma Delores (not really our grandparents, just family friends). Sitting with family and sitting with others can both be great. Let’s be flexible with that knowing each family and each child is different.

  1. Model what to do.

As humans, we often learn by observation. If you’ve ever been to a new church before, you know how this goes. You sort of wait and watch to see when other people stand and sit and sing. You react to those around you and follow their lead. Starting this Sunday we’ll have a page for sermon notes in the bulletin. Take notes. Draw a picture. Take that page home with you. Ask your kids what notes they took in the service.

Last Sunday we commissioned our preschool teachers for another year of service. On Wednesday, the new school year started with lots of new faces, and even a few tears from some of our new students at being dropped off at preschool for the first time.

Last Sunday I also mentioned we’ll be doing the Adopt-a-Teacher program once again. I’ll have a sign-up sheet in the breezeway between the sanctuary and the education room for people to sign up if they are interested.

The Adopt-a-teacher program has three expectations:

  1. Buy small gifts for your assigned teacher for Christmas, their birthday, and teacher appreciation week (May 4-May 8, 2020).
  2. Send notes of encouragement and/or thank you cards regularly (once a month is a good frequency).
  3. Pray for your teacher and get to know them if possible.

There is no need for this to be secret. The goal is to build relationships between the church and the preschool. You’ll get a sheet with some basic information about your assigned teacher in the next few weeks.

Thanks to everyone who helped launch this program last year, and thanks in advance for supporting it this year.

God’s richest blessings on your week.

Pastor Andy

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LCMS logoFirst Evangelical Lutheran Church is a member of the California-Nevada-Hawaii District of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, a family of congregations focused on bringing Christ to the nations and sharing His unconditional saving Love within our community.

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