Star Trek fans will readily identify with the concept of Terran life as being carbon-based. It seems that all life-forms on this earth are fundamentally based on the element carbon. Star Trek posed a curious question about what would happen if there were life-forms based on other elements – silicon, for example – and then proceeded to give a look at how we “Terrans” might interact with other life-forms. Often there is conflict, but the intent is to find harmony, peace. We find harmony when we can establish some “common ground” and common cause that draws all life-forms together.
As we embark on a new academic year, many are looking forward to the National Youth Gathering in 2022. The theme chosen for this gathering is “In All Things” and is based on Colossians 1:15-20. You will see this on publications and wall hangings in the months ahead. The reason for this theme is that the Apostle Paul is writing about Jesus Christ. Paul writes,
“19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”
makes me curious… Rather than seeing ourselves as carbon-based life-forms, what
if we really, honestly believed that Jesus Christ is the basis for ALL
Life? Would that change our interaction with others? Would that make you want
to share the hope that we have for a life in Christ?
He is, after all, “In ALL Things”!
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Jim Kirschenmann
Seems as though Summer just got started and suddenly we are seeing signs announcing “Back-to-School” and promoting “Savings!” As we think about education, rarely do we associate “savings,” but that, I propose, is the whole point. The more we learn about God, the more we are drawn closer to Him.
I was sitting the
other day and waiting to visit with someone who has been saved, and the
slideshow on the monitor flashed a couple of Bible Verses and then interspersed
this quote, “You can’t save people, you can only love them.” The next
thing that popped into my head was John 3:16, “For God so loved the world,
that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not
perish, but have eternal life.” Sounds to me as though, when God is
involved, being loved and being saved go hand-in-hand.
As Paul writes to his protégé Timothy, he encourages us, as well…
3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” – 1 Timothy 2:3-4
Now I will concede that you cannot argue someone into faith. Paul learned that as he was “debating with the Hellenistic Jews” in Acts 9. But what you can do is love them where they are at, then share the Gospel as the Holy Spirit presents opportunity. And pray. Pray without ceasing… Pray for All People, as Paul explains in 1 Timothy 2:1-2, First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
So, in order that all should be saved, we pray… then speak, as the words are given to us, and the heart is prepared to receive the good word. May we pray without ceasing and be bold in our witness that all may come to know the truth – and be saved – in Christ Jesus.
Pastor Jim Kirschenmann
When I was a kid in the 1960’s, this time of year always brought with it anticipation… There was anticipation of outdoor BBQ’s, squirt guns, swimming pools, baseball, hot dogs, etc. Thinking back, the most indelible memory is that of the red & white striped box with caramel popcorn & peanuts with the promise on the outside of the box ”Prize Inside!” … okay, so later it was changed to “surprise inside” as the incentives got to be less and less over the years.
But maybe you remember those days of summer, sitting outside with lemonade, munching away on the contents of that box, eagerly anticipating the point at which you could get to that ‘treasure’ – usually it had been strategically planted in the BOTTOM of the box. And possibly, like me, you sometimes raced through eating the stuff just so you could get to that “prize.” And then, opening the little packet, after much anticipation, you suddenly realized that in your haste you hadn’t really enjoyed the popcorn and peanuts in the process. And that’s when it hits you that the “prize inside” wasn’t really worth all that you went through to get it!
he Apostle Paul,
writing to the Philippians, gives this bit of encouragement in chapter 3:
“13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
No matter what you’re going through at the moment, no matter what obstacles you face or what challenges are presented, you can be absolutely certain that the “prize” that awaits you at the end of it all is far greater than anything you can possibly imagine – Eternal Life in Paradise with Christ! The prize won for us, not by our own effort, but by the all-availing sacrifice of the Son of God and bought with His body and blood on the cross.
Consider, as you go through this next month, that you have freedom from the wages of sin, death, and the devil, because of what Christ has already done for you. And continue to press on… making disciples of Jesus along the way. The “Prize” waiting for you is definitely worth it!
Grace, Mercy, and Peace in Christ,
Pastor Jim Kirschenmann
See the Blog post below with the CTCR publication - Online Communion is NOT accepted in the LCMS.
Before I became a pastor in the LCMS (Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod), I did field service on computers and networks. Some of my customers had home-based businesses or asked me to work on their computers at their home, a service I was happy to provide.
One particular customer had a couple of cute little pug dogs. At every visit, these little companions would greet me enthusiastically. When I would go to sit down to perform maintenance on the computer, one (or sometimes both) of these pugs would hop into the seat in anticipation. It seems they had developed a practice of pleasing their human companions by sitting in their laps during “computer time.” Upon seeing my surprise, the customer chuckled and announced, “we wear our dogs often!” – a phrase that was truly apropos, since the dog hair attached to my clothing. I learned to carry a lint brush in my tool bag…
When I began wearing clerical shirts, I recalled the instance of “we wear our dogs often” and the caution it brings to someone who must go to several abodes… At one point, following church service, there was a fellowship gathering and, as usual, coffee and donuts. Hence the question for this blog post, “Should a pastor wear a powdered donut?” As delectable as those treats may be, the confectioners’ sugar just seems to attach to everything I touch (or wear) – even the little “mini donuts”!
While wearing a clerical shirt (usually black), when I see powdered donuts, alarm bells begin to ring in my head… as tempting as they may be, the unintended result is simply not “Good, Right, and Salutary.” So, the answer to the powdered donut question is easy – just say NO! and offer thanks.
The same holds true for the practice of “online Communion” in the LCMS. While it may seem, on the surface anyway, to be innocuous and a “solution” to the problem of COVID-19 restrictions, it is not a good practice. For the theological reasons, I will refer you to the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) at the following web page: https://www.lcms.org/about/leadership/commission-on-theology-and-church-relations. There are a number of documents that address the issue, but suffice it to say, the answer is simply no, this is not an acceptable practice in the LCMS.
Communion via ZOOM or Facebook Live? Just like powdered donuts, your pastor is telling you, “Don’t do it!” because it is not “good, right, and salutary.”
But Communion IS available to you… DO contact the church office to set a time for your pastor to visit and offer you individual communion in the location of your choosing and at your convenience.
We have made it through… through the April showers, taking a moment or two to smell the flowers of May. Now June is suddenly upon us. Things are heating up… Places are opening up (Hallelujah!)… Choices now abound… a constant parade of choices!
Remember that God’s mercies are new every morning. As you consider the many decisions that are facing you, be mindful of where your trust lies – what is the Source of your trust?
The prophet Jeremiah, speaking God’s word to the Israelites as they were coming out of exile, gave the following encouragement,
7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose trust is the LORD.
8 He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
- Jeremiah 17:7–8 (ESV)
Trust in the Lord and the outcomes are guaranteed.
Trusting in your abilities and knowledge and insight? Sure. But do not rely solely on those. This does not mean you do not apply yourself or consider the learnings from the past – what worked and what did not…
You do all of that. But you do it planted beside the stream of Living Water – planted in God as the Source.
Trusting in the Creator who made you to make decisions. Whose Son redeems you. Whose Spirit enables you to make wise choices. Pray for that wisdom. Seek His will. Let Him guide you.
Live – planted in the Source of all true prosperity. With that water, bear fruit year after year…
Peace and Joy in Christ,
Pastor Jim Kirschenmann
With this month of May, so many things are coming along in the schedule and it may seem that we are always busy. Mother’s Day, Confirmations, Pentecost & Trinity Sundays, Graduations, and of course, the Memorial Day weekend are all on our lists of events we need to attend to (especially, your pastor hopes, those Sunday things).
Let’s take a moment during our “busyness” to just stop, breathe, and thank God for the gifts we have received, as well as the opportunities for celebration.
The Bible Says Busyness Causes Doubt and Disconnection from God
Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.” If you are not still, you will not know that God is God. And if you do not know God is truly the Sovereign God who reigns over all, then you will not be still. When these things happen, doubt and disconnection always appear.
In Mark 4:18-19 Jesus explains, “And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.” When life’s issues get so big in your head, there is no room left for God. The cares of this world literally “choke the word” in your life. Worldly busyness disconnects us from the one true God.
Our relationship with God is living and breathing. It needs the space to take in oxygen, to receive, to give . . . it needs time and room to prosper and to grow.
Therefore, may we put to practice what the Bible says about busyness: that being still before the Lord will cause us to know that God is God; and actively believing God is God will give us the ability to be still.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” -Proverbs 3:5-6.
May God bless you with Trust and Stillness,
Pastor Jim Kirschenmann
Somewhere in mid-October it comes out of my closet – that red hooded sweatshirt. Big, bulky, comfy, and warm. It is a fairly regular companion until it gets tucked neatly away in spring. But even during the summer months, it brings an assurance – knowing it is there… Yes, it guards against the winter winds and wraps me, comforts me, during those cold, dark nights. But there’s something more – something it brings to mind, even during the months when I would not wear it.
You see, screen-printed on this sweatshirt are the lyrics of a song by Mercy Me, “Bring the Rain” an excerpt follows …
I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain
Maybe you have a favorite piece of apparel, a favorite lyric, or a verse of scripture that helps you get through those tough times, those storms in life. Whatever it is for you, know that my prayer is that God would use it to wrap your heart with His abiding and steadfast love, like a big red hoodie.
As storms blow by, know that Christ is greater than the pain, that by suffering His destiny, He has made a way for you. So, what’s a little rain, when you have eternity to praise Him?
While you experience showers, in April or other times, perhaps Isaiah 45:8 (NIV) might be a comfort to you:
8 “You heavens above, rain down my righteousness;
let the clouds shower it down.
Let the earth open wide,
let salvation spring up,
let righteousness flourish with it;
I, the Lord, have created it.
Have a happy and blessed Easter Season!
Pastor Jim Kirschenmann
Not quite what you were expecting, eh? As we begin the month of February, many will be thinking of Valentine’s Day. Well, due to an interesting feature of our 3-year lectionary calendar, February 14, 2021 is also the celebration of The Transfiguration of our Lord. What better way to transition from the season of Epiphany and into the Season of Lent than to remember that God is Love.
1 John 4:9-11 states it beautifully:
9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
True love is that which flows from God and through us to those around us. As we reflect on the sacrifice made on our behalf, we enter the season of Lent, beginning with “Ash Wednesday” on February 17, 2021. Due to concerns about COVID-19, there will be no imposition of ashes this year, but we will remember that [we] are dust and to dust [we] shall return (see Genesis 3:19).
As we proceed through the season of Lent, we will have devotions available for your daily meditations, as well as midweek devotions online on Wednesdays at 7:00 pm. We will be focusing on the Gospel of Mark for our Sunday messages and recognizing that ‘seeing is not believing.’ May we continue to ‘see’ through the eyes of faith and share that gift of knowing God’s love.
Peace and Joy in Christ Jesus,
Pastor Jim Kirschenmann
As I walk the halls of Open Arms Child Development Center, I see the “carpet tiles” laid out on the floor to assist in getting the children to “line up at the wall”… One tile for each letter of the alphabet. ‘A’ is followed by ‘B’ then ‘C’ and ‘D’ and so on… somewhere around where ‘G’ should be, things get a little jumbled. Turn the corner and it almost seems to get back in order, but then after ‘W’ followed by ‘X’ comes ‘Y’ and suddenly ‘L’ and ‘M’ break in before we get to ‘Z’ – and that is turned sideways!
Interestingly enough, that seems to be a metaphor for the way 2020 has unfolded, doesn’t it?! Somewhere around where ‘G’ should be in our lives… it all seemed to go sideways. And we are all experiencing some degree of “pandemic fatigue” at this point, so trying to straighten things out just doesn’t seem to be worth the effort.
Thanks be to God (notice the Big ‘G’) that we don’t have to make sense of all this mess. He has come into our world and has begun the restoration of ALL creation. That is what we celebrated this Christmas. And that is what we can continue to celebrate as we go through Epiphany this season.
In the natural progression of the English language, that word – “epiphany” – seems to have taken on a whole different connotation in the secular world than what is meant in our faith-based lives. In today’s society, having an “epiphany” means …”an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking.” For our faith lives it means the manifestation of Christ, the divine and long-awaited savior, having come into our midst. The reality is that Christ has come and saved us from our sin and the condemnation that results from sin. The striking event that we will see at Good Friday is that He has died in our place. And the meaning that brings to us comes with His resurrection and the promise that we, too, inherit eternal life with and in Christ. What an Epiphany!
May this season bring you continuing joy as we celebrate the Light of Life enlightening our world!
Pastor Jim Kirschenmann