Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Pastors' Conference at Cross of Glory Evangelical Lutheran Church, Washington Twp., MI

On Monday, February 18, the pastors and teachers of the Southeast Conference of the Michigan District met for the annual Pastor / Teacher Conference.  This year it was held at Cross of Glory Evangelical Lutheran Church in Washington Township, Michigan.  The pastors also met for Tuesday morning to complete the conference.

Here are some photos of Cross of Glory.




Sunday, February 17, 2019

Sermon -- 6th Sunday after Epiphany (February 17, 2019)

LUKE 6:17-26

ONLY IN CHRIST DO WE RECEIVE GOD'S BLESSING.

In the name + of Jesus.

     It has become popular to promote ideas and behavior so that people end up on “the right side of history.”  It is a manipulative ploy, thinking that we should base our attitudes and actions on what other people will think of us.  It often works.  We want people to think that we are good.  We want them to speak well of us.  No one likes to be despised or scorned for having an unpopular belief.  Especially if you feel that you are standing alone, you are likely to reformulate your opinion to gain the world's praise.  Just watch how fast people distance themselves from someone who tweets the wrong message on Twitter.  Everyone is trying to position themselves to be on “the right side of history.”
     The Lord is uninterested in popular opinion.  In fact, Jesus says this about people who crave worldly praise: “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.” (Luke 6:26)  False prophets are loved because they often appeal to what is popular.  But to seek the praise of the world is to forfeit the praise of the Lord.
     As the Israelite nation entered the Promised Land and was about to displace the residents there, the Lord appeared to Joshua with a drawn sword.  Naturally, Joshua was concerned about this, so he asked, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” (Joshua 5:13)  The answer was surprising.  The Lord responded, “Neither.”  In other words, the Lord does not take sides.  The question is not whether or not God is on our side; the question is whether or not we are aligned with him.  God is the standard of holy; and anything that opposes him is wicked.  God is the definition of good; and anyone who disagrees with him is in rebellion.  Rather than wonder if God is for you or against you, you ought to ask, “Am I in agreement with the Lord, or am I opposing him?”  That determines whether you are under God's blessing or his curse.
     In today's Gospel, Jesus proclaims both blessings and woes.  A “woe” is not merely a warning, it is a curse.  By it, the Lord declares the status of someone who is outside the kingdom of God.  For those who are still alive, there is still time and still hope to be delivered from this curse.  For, Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but to save the world.  Only in Christ do we receive God's blessing.
     The term “blessed” has occasionally been translated as “happy.”  This is unfortunate and misleading.  In Jesus' sermon, it does not even make sense.  “Happy are you who weep now”?  If you are reduced to tears, you are clearly not happy.  Happy is an emotion which changes from moment to moment.  Good circumstances mean a good mood; bad circumstances result in a bad mood.  Just as “woe” is a pronouncement by our Lord, so is “blessed.”  When Jesus declares, “Blessed are you,” he is telling you that the Lord's favor rests upon you.  That does not change according to your circumstances.  Whether all is well or all is wrong, whether you are in pain or in mourning, despised or ostracized, heartbroken or clinically depressed, God's favor remains constant because our Lord remains faithful to his promises.
     Only in Christ do we receive God's blessing.  But his favor does not come in the way we would expect.  Jesus declared, “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!  Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.” (Luke 6:22-23)  You might expect God's favor would be matched by people liking you and praising you.  Jesus states that just the opposite will happen. 
     Only in Christ do we receive God's blessing, but that does not mean the world will bless you as well.  For, if you are in Christ, if you believe his word, if you are convinced that God's word is the truth, then you will live according to it and confess it to be so.  The world will not mind if you hold to God's word as an opinion that you choose to live by.  They might consider your faith like a vegan diet or a yoga routine: “Hey, if that works for you, fine; but something else works for me.  That is equally as good.”
     But God's word is no mere opinion.  God has set a standard of right and wrong which is not open for debate.  We do not get any exemptions from it, either.  You do not get to insist, “If no one is getting hurt, what does it matter what I do?”  By our sins, we spurn God.  Does that matter?  By your sins, you encourage your fellow Christians to rebel against God, too.  Is that harmless?  Woe to you!  Repent.  God will judge all who fail to live up to his commandments. 
     When we say loving obedience to God's Commandments matters and when we live like it, do not be surprised when the world excludes you, reviles you, and spurns your name as evil on account of the Son of Man.  People insist on their freedom to live as they please.  They will try to convince you that asserting your freedom is the greatest good, greater than God's word.  Beware.
     It is not only God's Law which will get you scorn and mockery.  Even God's grace will do it.  Christ reveals himself as the only Savior of mankind.  There is no one else who takes away the sins of the world.  There is no one else who gives rescue from the grave.  There is no one else who will present you to God the Father as blameless.  There is no one else who opens heaven to you.  And he does not do this because you have done anything to win his affection or to earn his favor.  Jesus is your Savior because you need to be saved.  Jesus shows you that you are poor, totally devoid of anything God can praise.  God's word makes you hungry now, yearning for the innocence that is not in you.  The Holy Spirit causes you to weep now because you are truly frustrated by your inability to do the good that you should do.  But in Jesus Christ, you receive God's blessing.  You are saved by his grace, his gift, his work. 
     Once again, many will give you scorn and mockery because you insist that salvation is by grace and that heaven is secured only by Jesus.  Sinful hearts always insist, “We are good people.  We are not criminals.  We deserve heaven, and we deserve better now.”  You and I struggle with it too.  Why are we saved?  It is too easy to conclude that we have done something that others have not.  That we are better.  That we are more sorry, more sincere, more devout.  That God favors us because we are more favorable.  But that is not what God says.  For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)  If you are saved, you have much to give thanks for, but nothing to boast about.  God's favor is not gained because you are good; you aren't.  You are sinners.  God's favor is given because he is good.  Only in Christ do we receive God's blessing.
     We insist on these things because this is what our Lord declares.  We stand firm in it because this is what saves us.  God's blessing comes through this word.  You may be called heartless for saying that there is no salvation outside of Jesus.  You may be called a hater for telling others that sins are harmful and therefore God calls us to repent of them.  Your name may be scorned, and you may be told that you are on the wrong side of history. 
     But if the world does not speak well of you, fear not.  Jesus speaks differently: “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!  Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.” (Luke 6:22-23)  Our concern is that we are on God's side, which is to say that we trust Jesus Christ and his word—in our minds, in our hearts, in our lives, and in our mouths.  If we are condemned by the world, in Christ we receive God's blessing.  If the world declares that we are on the wrong side of history, the Lord Jesus will put us on the right side of the judgment.  In Christ, the Lord God does speak well of you.  He satisfies you with good things.  You will laugh with God and the angels, and you will rejoice for all eternity. 

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Update from Good Shepherd (February 14, 2019)

Greetings!


REGULAR SCHEDULE
Our Divine Services are on Sundays at 10:00 AM.
Thursday services at 3:30 PM are also offered, but call or text to confirm you are coming (248-719-5218).  If no one calls to confirm their attendance, he may not be at the church.

SUNDAY SCHOOL & ADULT BIBLE CLASS
Our Sunday School & Adult Bible Class meet at 8:45 AM.

ADULT BIBLE CLASS  —  JESUS – Legend or Lord?
      Jesus is one of the most written about and debated figures in the world.  In this eight-part series, Dr. Maier explores a three-lane highway to the past through the disciplines of Archaeology, History, and Geography.  Along the journey, we look back to the world that Jesus himself saw as he moved toward the cross.  The remaining schedule is:   
                  February 17 –  The Resurrection Revisited
                  February 24 –  The Explosion of Christianity 
In order to give ourselves enough time to discuss the materials presented, the DVD will begin promptly at 8:55 AM.  

SCHOOL OF STRATEGIC PLANNING
The School of Strategic Planning will be THIS SATURDAY (9:00 AM - 6:00 PM) and SUNDAY (1:00 – 4:00 PM).
We will be joined by St. John's, Battle Creek and Palabra de Vida, Detroit.  
 In order to be good hosts to all participants, we will need to organize meals, snacks, and beverages, as well as any other extras which will make our guests welcome and comfortable.  If you are willing and able to supply anything, check out this link: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10C0A44A8AB2DA1FA7-food
        Thanks in advance for your generosity.

SUNDAY NIGHT BIBLE SERIES
A next session of our Sunday Night Bible Series will be Sunday, March
 10 at 6:00 PM.  This series, entitled “Eating God's Sacrifice,” explores the Lord's Supper portrayal in the Old Testament sacrifices.  While the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper flows from the Passover, its roots and forgiveness come from all the Old Testament sacrifices.  After viewing each DVD segment, Pastor Purdue and Pastor Schroeder will lead a discussion about the material which is in the DVD.  All sessions will begin at 6:00 PM.  These are intended to be interactive discussions as well as informational.  Desserts and snacks will be served.  All are welcome.

OPEN FORUM & VOTERS' MEETING
On Sunday, February 24 after the service,we will have an Open Forum which will present the various plans which we hope to implement in the coming year and beyond.  This offers all of our members information on how they can serve and become more active in our congregation.  It also allows you to ask questions and offer input to help us with future planning.  While there may not be much to report so quickly after the School of Strategic Planning, we should be able to mention some highlights we gleaned from that.  All confirmed members of Good Shepherd are welcome and encouraged to join us.
The Voters' Meeting will take place immediately following the Open Forum.

WELS YOUTH RALLY
        Join Us for the 2019 WELS Regional Youth Rally in West Virginia!
This year's regional Youth Rally will take place at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, from July 15-18th. The Michigan District and North Atlantic District will again be partnering on this project.
The event will be similar to the rallies held at Villanova in 2015 and at Xavier in 2017. Students and chaperones will have the chance to join fellow WELS members from around the country for worship, Bible study, games, exploring the West Virginia countryside, a trip to an amusement park, and much more!
Earlybird online registration is already open! Save now by registering before March 16th. You can find Rally information at welsyouth.net or simply click the link below.

DO YOU LIKE US?
Look for Good Shepherd on Facebook.  Then “LIKE” us for updates and other postings.

BAD WEATHER POLICY FOR SERVICES AT GOOD SHEPHERD
For future reference (or a reminder) here is the bad weather policy for Good Shepherd services:
We will always have services as scheduled at Good Shepherd.  Since I live across the parking lot, I can get to the church no matter how bad the weather gets.  Even if the service is just me and my family, we will be here.  For everyone else, please use your God-given common sense to determine whether or not you will get on the road to attend any service when the weather is bad.  We don't want anyone to risk his or her life to be here.  But if you do venture out, the scheduled service will take place.  It may be only a handful with a capella singing and/or spoken liturgy, but we will be here.
Bible Classes and meetings may be cancelled due to weather.  Check your email regarding announcements to see if any of those scheduled events is cancelled.  If there is no email about it, it is not cancelled.  But again, use common sense to determine if you can make it, and call the pastor to let him know if you will not be coming.

God bless you.

In Christ,
Pastor Schroeder

==============================

DIVINE SERVICES
     Sundays at 10:00 AM
     Thursdays at 3:30 PM (call or text 248-719-5218 to confirm)

SUNDAY SCHOOL
     Sundays at 8:45 AM

ADULT BIBLE CLASS
     Sundays at 8:45 AM

GOOD SHEPHERD’S WEBSITE

PASTOR SCHROEDER’S BLOG


Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church
41415 W. Nine Mile Road
Novi, Michigan  48375-4306
+   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +
Divine Services -- Sundays at 10:00 AM

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Sermon -- 5th Sunday after Epiphany (February 10, 2019)

LUKE 5:1-11

JESUS CATCHES A SINNER TO CATCH MORE SINNERS.

In the name + of Jesus.

     When Simon Peter got what he wanted, it almost killed him.  When Simon Peter did not get what he asked for, it saved him.  This is typical of sinners.  We are convinced that we know better than our Lord what we need and what makes life worth while.  And so our prayers are often focused on what serves us.  We pray for what will make us happy, prosperous, and comfortable in this world.  Because if we have these things, we believe, then we will have everything we really need.  That, we think, is the highest good.  And that is what Simon Peter and his business partners were laboring for as well.
     But it had not been a good night.  They labored all night for fish.  It was not a leisurely fishing trip with the guys, drinking beers and watching a bobber go up and down.  It was business.  It was their livelihood.  Whatever they caught was to be taken to market and sold so that they could support their families.  But at the end of a long night, they did not come home happy, prosperous, or comfortable.  They came home tired and disappointed, and perhaps even worried because they came to shore empty-handed. 
     Peter and his friends cleaned up their nets and prepped them for the next night out on the Sea of Galilee.  Meanwhile, the crowds had gathered around Jesus at the shore, and he wanted to preach to them.  So, he got into Peter's boat, drifted out a bit, and from the boat taught the crowds on the shore about the kingdom of God.  Peter listened as he tended to his nets.  And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” (Luke 5:4)  Jesus was not a fisherman.  Peter and the sons of Zebedee were.  They knew when to fish and where to find them—at night, in the shallow waters where the nets can be dragged.  So, you can almost imagine the condescension in Peter's voice as he replied to Jesus: “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing!  But at your word I will let down the nets.”  And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking.  They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them.  And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. (Luke 5:5-7)
     Simon Peter had gotten what he wanted, and it almost killed him.  At Jesus' word, Peter pulled in the catch he had been dreaming of.  He hauled in a catch that would be legendary in the fishing industry.  This would be a banner day at the market.  Simon Peter got his prosperous catch.  Prosperity meant comfort, and comfort meant that he and his family would be happy!  But it was too much.  His partners came over to help.  They filled both boats, and both boats were so weighed down that they began to sink.  When Peter got what he wanted it almost killed him. 
     Peter and his companions were suddenly close to dying.  Actually, that isn't quite true.  They were always close to dying.  It is just that the boats sinking because of the great catch of fish had made it obvious how close to death they were.  Jesus had exposed the reality that death is imminent and unavoidable; and they were panicked.  It is no different for you and me.  We are all close to death.  We don't think much of it.  We go about our business, we make our plans, and we assume that we will not face any problems.  We usually don't.  So, we devote our time and energy to making ourselves at home in this world.  We pursue happiness, prosperity, and comfort.  We long to make this world our home, failing to recognize that our time in this world is temporary and that death can come at any moment.  It is always just a heartbeat away.  And after death comes eternity. 
     It has never been the goal of the Christian faith that people are to be prosperous, comfortable, and happy in this world.  That is what our sinful flesh craves, but it is not what God promises.  And it is not where God focuses your attention.  This world and all its wealth and glory is passing away because it has been corrupted by sin.  If you devote yourself to this world and its glory, you will perish with it.  Repent.
     Peter was in a full blown panic on the Sea of Galilee.  In part, it was because the boats were beginning to sink in the deep waters.  Another reason is because of the catch of fish.  It was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but it was given according to Jesus' word.  Peter recognized that God was in his boat.  Overcome with the fear of death, with the burden of sin, with the reality of judgment, and with his Judge standing before him, Peter uttered an urgent prayer.  Simon Peter … fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” (Luke 5:8)  Peter dealt with sin and death the way most sinners do—he wanted to ignore it.  He wanted God to go away so that he did not have to face sin, death, and judgment.  Not even his prosperous catch or comfortable paycheck made a difference.
     When Simon Peter got what he wanted, it almost killed him.  When Simon Peter did not get what he asked for, it saved him.  Jesus loved him too much to let him deal with sin and death on his own.  Jesus instead stayed with Peter and then summoned him, “Follow me.”  Peter followed Jesus all the way to Calvary where Jesus dealt with sin and death for him.  Jesus does not ignore our sins.  He has taken them up from us in order to suffer the curse we have earned.  He went to the cross to give himself into death as the sacrifice which pays for the sins of the world.  He went into death for us so that could put an end to death for us.  His resurrection means that death has been put to death and that heaven is open.  So, Jesus saves you.  He takes your sin away.  He delivers you from the grave.  Jesus has snatched you up out of the depths of sin, death, despair, and damnation, and he has brought you into the nave—to the safety of the Holy Christian Church.  He also remains with you the strengthen and keep you in his Church until he returns to raise you up from the grave to live with him in glory forever.
     Nowhere does God promise that you will be prosperous, comfortable, and happy in this life.  If God chooses to bless you that way, thank him for it.  But his promises are for you to receive forgiveness of sins, new life, and salvation.  It does not matter if you are stinking rich or dirt poor, if your life is filled with laughter or tears, whether your day is marked with ease or hardship, whether you are strong or frail, whether you are healthy or dying.  What does matter is that you have a Savior who loves you, who takes away your sins, who marks you for a glorious resurrection, and who assures you of an eternity where the glories do not fade, where God's people are continually comforted, and where the joys do not end.
     The Lord Jesus called Peter and his partners, James and John, to a new vocation.  Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”  And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. (Luke 5:10-11)  Jesus called sinners to follow him and told them that they were going to catch men, pulling them out of the depths of sin and death into the nave—that is, into the kingdom of God.  It is a message so significant and special that we might expect God to entrust that to angels.  He does not.  He called sinners like Simon Peter, James, and John to do this.  He also calls you to proclaim the good news. 
     Why you?  Why sinners?  Because you know what it is to be bothered and burdened by sin and guilt.  You know what it is to fear death and to dread God's judgment.  You know what other sinners are enduring in their sins.  But more than that, you know what it is to be shown mercy.  You know that the answer is not to beg God to go away, but to flee to him and cling to him.  For, you know what it is to have a God who will not abandon you, but who loves you no matter what you've done.  You know what it is to have your sins washed away, to have God's favor proclaimed upon you, and to have the confidence that you will be welcomed into God's heavenly kingdom.  And since you know these things, who better than you to declare them to sinners who also need them?
     And now we finally get to the theme of the sermon: The Lord Jesus calls sinners to catch other sinners.  He calls his saved to proclaim salvation to others.  Your Savior has delivered you and has even taught you to change your prayers so that he does, indeed, give you what you want—forgiveness of sins, new life, and salvation.  Your prayer is also that God will also deliver these things to your loved ones.  Good news: You get to deliver them because you have them.  The Lord Jesus calls sinners to catch other sinners.  He saves us from the depths.  He brings us to the safety of the nave of his Church.  And he will finally bring us to the heights of heaven.  There, we will prosper.  We will be comforted.  And we will be happy in our Savior's presence forevermore.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Update from Good Shepherd (February 7, 2019)

Greetings!


REGULAR SCHEDULE
Our Divine Services are on Sundays at 10:00 AM.
Thursday services at 3:30 PM are also offered, but call or text to confirm you are coming (248-719-5218).  If no one calls to confirm their attendance, he may not be at the church.

SUNDAY SCHOOL & ADULT BIBLE CLASS
Our Sunday School & Adult Bible Class meet at 8:45 AM.

ADULT BIBLE CLASS  —  JESUS – Legend or Lord?
      Jesus is one of the most written about and debated figures in the world.  In this eight-part series, Dr. Maier explores a three-lane highway to the past through the disciplines of Archaeology, History, and Geography.  Along the journey, we look back to the world that Jesus himself saw as he moved toward the cross.  The remaining schedule is:    
                  February 10 –  The Week That Changed the World
                  February 17 –  The Resurrection Revisited
                  February 24 –  The Explosion of Christianity 
In order to give ourselves enough time to discuss the materials presented, the DVD will begin promptly at 8:55 AM.  

SCHOOL OF STRATEGIC PLANNING
The WELS offers a School of Strategic Planning to aid congregations in assessing, prioritizing, and implementing plans to make the most of opportunities to preach the Gospel to as many as possible.  The dates for the School of Strategic Planning, to be held at Good Shepherd, will be Saturday, February 16 – Sunday, February 17.  The tentative schedule will include sessions on Saturday (9:00 AM – 6:00 PM) and Sunday (1:00 – 4:00 PM).
Other congregations who will join us are St. John's, Battle Creek and Palabra de Vida, Detroit.  If you are interested in attending these sessions as an interested member of Good Shepherd, please speak with Dan Rauchholz or Pastor Schroeder.
 In order to be good hosts to all participants, we will need to organize meals, snacks, and beverages, as well as any other extras which will make our guests welcome and comfortable.  Details regarding contributions will be posted soon (likely, a SignUp Genius page).  We will also need people who will be willing to serve to prep the snacks, meals, and possibly other needed items.
        The link to the WELS page for School of Strategic Planning is here:  https://ccc.welsrc.net/school-of-strategic-planning/

SUNDAY NIGHT BIBLE SERIES
A next session of our Sunday Night Bible Series will be THIS SUNDAY (
February 10) at 6:00 PM.  This series, entitled “Eating God's Sacrifice,” explores the Lord's Supper portrayal in the Old Testament sacrifices.  While the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper flows from the Passover, its roots and forgiveness come from all the Old Testament sacrifices.  After viewing each DVD segment, Pastor Purdue and Pastor Schroeder will lead a discussion about the material which is in the DVD.  All sessions will begin at 6:00 PM.  These are intended to be interactive discussions as well as informational.  Desserts and snacks will be served.  All are welcome.

JESUS CARES MINISTRIES: Worship at the Cross
Our first effort for Worship at the Cross did not have any attendees. We are being optimistic, suggesting that the hectic schedule of December left people not wanting to add another event to their month.  We will try again on Tuesday, February 12 at 6:30 PM.

WELS YOUTH RALLY
        Join Us for the 2019 WELS Regional Youth Rally in West Virginia!
This year's regional Youth Rally will take place at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, from July 15-18th. The Michigan District and North Atlantic District will again be partnering on this project.
The event will be similar to the rallies held at Villanova in 2015 and at Xavier in 2017. Students and chaperones will have the chance to join fellow WELS members from around the country for worship, Bible study, games, exploring the West Virginia countryside, a trip to an amusement park, and much more!
Earlybird online registration is already open! Save now by registering before March 16th. You can find Rally information at welsyouth.net or simply click the link below.

DO YOU LIKE US?
Look for Good Shepherd on Facebook.  Then “LIKE” us for updates and other postings.

BAD WEATHER POLICY FOR SERVICES AT GOOD SHEPHERD
For future reference (or a reminder) here is the bad weather policy for Good Shepherd services:
We will always have services as scheduled at Good Shepherd.  Since I live across the parking lot, I can get to the church no matter how bad the weather gets.  Even if the service is just me and my family, we will be here.  For everyone else, please use your God-given common sense to determine whether or not you will get on the road to attend any service when the weather is bad.  We don't want anyone to risk his or her life to be here.  But if you do venture out, the scheduled service will take place.  It may be only a handful with a capella singing and/or spoken liturgy, but we will be here.
Bible Classes and meetings may be cancelled due to weather.  Check your email regarding announcements to see if any of those scheduled events is cancelled.  If there is no email about it, it is not cancelled.  But again, use common sense to determine if you can make it, and call the pastor to let him know if you will not be coming.

God bless you.

In Christ,
Pastor Schroeder

==============================

DIVINE SERVICES
     Sundays at 10:00 AM
     Thursdays at 3:30 PM (call or text 248-719-5218 to confirm)

SUNDAY SCHOOL
     Sundays at 8:45 AM

ADULT BIBLE CLASS
     Sundays at 8:45 AM

GOOD SHEPHERD’S WEBSITE

PASTOR SCHROEDER’S BLOG


Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church
41415 W. Nine Mile Road
Novi, Michigan  48375-4306
+   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +
Divine Services -- Sundays at 10:00 AM

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Jesus Cares: Worship at the Cross -- a service for people with special needs

WORSHIP AT THE CROSS
A Service for People with Special Needs

Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church in Novi (9 Mile & Meadowbrook) is eager to meet and to serve people with special needs.  In conjunction with Jesus Cares Ministries (http://www.tlha.org/jesus-cares-ministries), we are offering a monthly worship called Worship at the Cross.   Worship at the Cross is a 25 minute service which is tailored to the needs of its participants.  Volunteers will assist to ensure everyone feels comfortable and can take part to the best of their ability.  Following the service, we will enjoy a snack and an interactive project.  
Worship at the Cross will meet on the 2nd Tuesday of each month.
Register at http://goodshepherdnovi.org/worship_at_the_cross .  You can also contact Pastor Thomas Schroeder at 248-349-0565 or at welsnovi@aol.com for more info.
        Please share this information to any family which may find this of interest!

        Worship at the Cross service will be Tuesday, February 12 at 6:30 PM.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Things that make me go ARRRRGGGGHHHH! -- Super Bowl reflections

The Super Bowl once again proved that the MVP is a flawed award.

I am grateful that it was not mindlessly given to the quarterback of the winning team.  Although, in just about every game, you have to argue that the QB is always the MVP just based on the fact that he handles the ball on every snap.  That kind of vaults him to a very important status over everyone else.

This year, it went to wide receiver Julian Edelman.  Now to be fair, Edelman did have a good game (10 catches for 141 yards; Brandin Cooks of the Rams had 8 catches for 120 yards--not bad either).  Running back Sony Michael had 18 carries for 94 yards and the game's only TD.  In a game where running the ball helped drain the clock and limit LA's chances to come back, that was pretty noteworthy.  These are the kinds of efforts which deserve more recognition.  Edelman, Cooks, and Michael do not touch the ball every play.  They are at the mercy of the coach who calls the plays and QB who has to get it to them.
Julian Edelman.  Good game, but not the MVP.

[Side Note: There was a sentiment in our house that the MVP should have gone to Rams punter, Johnny Hekker--9 punts for 417 yards, including a Super Bowl record 65 yard punt.]

But here is the flaw.  The MVP went to an offensive player in a game where the Patriots defense held the Rams to 3 points.  3 POINTS!!!  How does the MVP NOT go to a defensive player?!?!  Okay, Edelman's stats are easier to find and look more impressive.  A catch is more exciting than a tackle after a 2 yard gain.  But the Patriots defense won that game.

For that matter, if anyone had told the Rams before the game, "You will hold the Patriots to 13 points.  Do you like your chances?", they would have been elated, thinking about trips to Disney World and a Super Bowl parade.  The Rams defense was outstanding, too.  But of course, the MVP has to go to an offensive player because that is what we care about.  Thank you, Fantasy Football.

I suppose the argument against a defensive MVP is that no one player stood out.  Apparently, you need to have 3 interceptions before you get noticed.  I contend that in a game like this where the defense dominated so much, you have to give the MVP to a defensive player, even if it is awarded in the understanding that one defensive player represents the entire defensive effort.

Therefore, my Super Bowl MVP goes to Patriots defensive back, Stephon Gilmore with 5 tackles, 3 passes defensed, 1 interception, and 1 forced fumble.  These are the stats people will see, but what we do not see is the effort Gilmore put in on coverage in which the ball never came his way because he covered the receiver well.  This deserves more recognition than it gets, but it is not gaudy stats so we generally do not care.

Congratulations to my Super Bowl MVP, Stephon Gilmore, to the Patriots defense, and to the Patriots over all.  And to those who chose Julian Edelman as the MVP in a game where the defense owned the game, I say ARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!

Sunday, February 3, 2019

For Your Amusement: The best Super Bowl commercial ever

Still the best Super Bowl commercial ever.  (Perhaps some bias for Detroit is showing.)



Sermon -- 4th Sunday after Epiphany (February 3, 2019)

Jeremiah, by Michaelangelo from
the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel
JEREMIAH 1:4-10

A BOLD CONFESSION COMES 
FROM A BOLD PROMISE.

In the name + of Jesus.

     When the Lord called the prophet Jeremiah, Jeremiah had his reasons for not wanting to do it.  Jeremiah offered this excuse: “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” (Jeremiah 1:6)  Now, to be fair to Jeremiah, he may have been truthful about himself.  The word “youth” simply means a young man.  He was not one of the elders of the community whose word carried weight because of his age, dignity, or experience.  And it is probably true that Jeremiah was no great orator, either.  For these reasons, Jeremiah figured he should have been excused from being God's prophet.  God was not buying it.  God knew what he was doing when he called Jeremiah.  But to alleviate Jeremiah's fears, God gave him a promise: The LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.  Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 1:7-8)  
     The Lord has not called you to be a prophet, but he has called you to be his disciple.  You are a follower of Jesus and a learner of his word.  What's more, you are also a confessor of that word.  As a confessor, you get to declare the glories of God.  As one who bears the name of Christ, you get to represent Christ before the world in your actions and especially in your words.  You get to tell others how God has loved the world, how Jesus has suffered and died for sinners, how the guilty can find forgiveness in Jesus, and that his gifts are given Sunday after Sunday at our church.  And you get to go forth boldly and say so.  A bold confession comes from a bold promise.
     Perhaps you can appreciate Jeremiah's fear and reluctance now.  We all have excuses about why we are not up to the task of confessing our faith to others.  Perhaps you are afraid that people will mock you for going to church or believing the Bible.  Perhaps you do not feel like you have mastered the Bible enough to talk about it with others.  Maybe you wonder, “What if I screw it up?”  Perhaps you feel it is someone else's job.  God is not buying it.  God knew what he was doing when he redeemed you and brought you into his kingdom.  God revealed his promises to you and planted the faith in your heart to believe his promises and to receive his benefits.  He calls you not just to think of his promises, but also to boldly confess them.  A bold confession comes from a bold promise.
     Satan is a master at handing us excuses.  And in our laziness, we believe them.  Consider the Psalm we sang this morning.  Psalm 78 begins, “Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth!  I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us.  We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.” (Psalm 78:1-4)  This bold confession begins with our own families.  We talk about the Lord's promises as we walk along the road and when we sit at home, in our coming and going, when we get up and when we go to bed.  How else will our children believe that these things matter?  And while we confess bold promises, confessing these things to our children is as easy as it gets.
     Sadly, it does not often get done.  Satan gives us excuses not to do this, and we buy them.  On more than one occasion, I have warned parents, “Did you know that you are raising your children to not be Christians?”  Naturally, they were appalled by that question.  They had a knowledge of who Jesus is.  They put up a tree and celebrate Christmas.  “But,” I highlighted, “you never come to church.  You are training your children that Sunday mornings are not for Jesus.  If you don't bring them to church when you are completely in charge of them, what are the odds that they will go to church on their own when they are older?”  In theory, they knew that was true.  But Satan gave excuses.  Children were happier doing other things.  And the parents favored the children's happiness over their salvation.
     We have no problems talking about what shampoo we use, what restaurants we prefer, or who we will cheer for in the Super Bowl.  Ultimately, these things don't matter.  But this has to do with the eternal salvation of family, friends, and even of yourself.  If this is not the highest priority, if you only fear, love, and trust in God above all things in theory, then you are lost.  Repent.  Satan will try to convince you, “Don't get all religious about this.  You and your family are fine.”  Jesus says, “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17)  Therefore, if you are not hearing, faith will not come and it cannot remain.
     A bold confession comes from a bold promise.  God called Jeremiah to go and preach the word.  And God gave him all he needed.  Jeremiah noted: Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth.  And the LORD said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.” (Jeremiah 1:9)  God did not tell Jeremiah to craft a clever message and to win the hearts of the people.  As the Lord's prophet, Jeremiah was given the words to say from the Lord.  The bold confession was simply the word the Lord gave to Jeremiah.  And since the Lord gave Jeremiah a bold promise, there was no reason for Jeremiah to keep silent.
     So it is with you.  God has given you the words to say.  God gave us his word so that we can distinguish right from wrong and good from evil.  We teach our children to avoid what God forbids so that they will spare themselves of many griefs and God's wrath.  We teach our children to do the good things God demands.  In this way, we become honest, noble people who benefit our fellow man.  But as we teach these things, we will also recognize that no one lives up to what God demands.  Therefore, we again make a bold confession: We confess our sins—which is to say that we agree with God's word.  We don't have any contest about who is better than another.  There is no difference; all have sinned and continue to fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:22,23)  But then we make another bold confession: We confess our faith.  We believe that Jesus Christ, who is God in the flesh, has suffered for our sins, died to deliver us from a cursed death, and rose from the dead to declare that our sins are, indeed, forgiven and that heaven is open to us.  Now, based on God's bold promise, we make our bold confession: We believe in the forgiveness of sins.  We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.
     A bold confession comes from a bold promise.  We do not need to invent things to confess.  We simply declare what God has declared.  Behold!  The Lord has put his words in your mouth.  You get to talk about them day after day so that your children grow up in the faith and, by God's grace, will be kept in it.  You get to confess that word to your family and friends because you have the good news that they are looking for.  You have the peace which they seek.  And you have the confidence to stand before the Lord on the Last Day which they need. 
     The Lord called Jeremiah to be a prophet.  He gave him the words to say, and he gave him the promise, “I am with you.” (Jeremiah 1:8)  He has done the same for you.  Now, full disclosure: Jeremiah did what he was given to do.  He made the bold confession, and he was hated for it.  So, your confession will not always be received well.  Be bold; make it anyway.  God knew what he was doing when he called you to be his own.  He has put his name on you, and he has put his word in your heart, in your mind, and in your mouth to confess it.  After all, he has given you a bold promise that stands no matter what anyone else things of it.  Even though that confession has been despised by some, it has led to the salvation of others.  There is no way that salvation is attained except through the word.  There is no way that faith is sustained except through the word.  So, make your bold confession, and boldly trust God's promises.  He will be with you.  He will save you.  And he will not fail you.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.