Is it MY LIFE?

MY LIFE!

Is it my life? Is it your life? The Apostle Paul reminds us of who owns us! Slowly read his words of truth, Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.” Last Sunday we read and reflected on the Beatitudes to consider what our lives look like when we are owned by Jesus.

This week I have been praying the following prayer from Lancelot Andrewes. Lance was the chaplain to Elizabeth I and oversaw the translation of the King James version of the Bible. Take some time to slowly pray and release your control and hand everything over to Jesus.
 
“Lord Jesus, I give you my hands to do your work.
I give you my feet to go your way.
I give you my eyes to see as you do.
I give you my tongue to speak your words.
I give you my mind that you may think in me.
I give you my spirit that you may pray in me.
Above all, I give you my heart that you may love in me,
your Father, and all humankind.
I give you my whole self that you may grow in me,
So that it is you, Lord Jesus,
Who lives and works and prays in me.”
 
Just imagine if this was the life mission of each and every one of us. We would have no acts of violence and horrific evil such as the coldblooded murder of innocent worshippers at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. Andrewes prayer is hopeful – as he suggests, “I give you my whole self that you may grow in me.” Maybe you start small. With your feet? Or your hands? Or your voice? Or your treasures?

At Central we are just beginning the MY LIFE, MY CHURCH, MY COMMUNITY emphasis. We are asking members and friends of this body to fill out a 2018 Financial Promise Card and return it to Central as soon as possible. You can place it in the offering globes during worship, drop it off at the Church Office or notify or Financial Administrator at Kris.geslin@clcelkriver.org. Your regular financial support is a vital investment in the mission of Making Disciples of Jesus. 

Take a moment to watch the video on giving that we had at worship last Sunday.

Paul Johansson

P.S. Your financial support of some of our Christmas giving opportunities is also appreciated. Please consider giving a special offering for OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD, ANGEL TREE, ADOPT A FAMILY or OPERATION MILITARY CHRISTMAS SPIRIT. Information about these opportunities is in the Sunday GET CONNECTED or you can visit the website, www.clcelkriver.org to learn more.

Remembrance of our Loved Ones

Central, 

O Lord,
support us all the day long of this troublous life,
until the shadows lengthen,
and the evening comes,
and the busy world is hushed,
and the fever of life is over,
and our work is done.
Then, Lord, in thy mercy,
grant us a safe lodging, 
a holy rest, 
and peace at the last.
Amen.
(John Henry Newman)

In some traditions, this prayer is often prayed when someone is dying, or at a funeral. Sunday is All Saints’ Day – and maybe Newman’s prayer can help you bear the loss of a loved one – or it might help you as you remember, and grieve. God’s support is something we need, always – and it’s all day long. God indeed is “our refuge and support, a very present help in times of trouble.” – Psalm 46

As we prepare for worship on All Saints Sunday I encourage you take time and pray Newman’s prayer from the 19th Century. When we gather the bells will be tolled in remembrance of the following loved ones and you will have opportunity to light a candle of remembrance after receiving communion.

Please join me in giving thanks to God for the lives and memory of: 

Jan Beard – October 28, 1950 – April 6, 2017
Mary Becker – September 10, 1936 – July 6, 2017
Don Cooper, Jr. – July 26, 1930 – October 23, 2017
Wesley Cottrell – October 8, 1932 – October 1, 2017
Laura Duvall – March 17, 1959 – March 7, 2017
Don Eckstrom – November 28, 1945 – May 31, 2017
Joel Eggert – December 14, 1969 – December 2016
Charles Gruhl – January 21, 1949 – March 8, 2017
Sue Hei – September 21, 1958 – September 11, 2017
Corinne Jones – May 20, 1926 – November 20, 2016
Jerry Jorgenson – November 16, 2016 – July 8, 2017
Joel Peterson – July 23, 1967 – March 8, 2017
Craig Quist – November 6, 1939 – March 9, 2017
Lillian Rodeck – October 28, 1924 – August 10, 2017
Jack Rustad – August 20, 1964 – May 20, 2017
Doreen Suelter – June 14, 1958 – July 28, 2017
Evelyn Synstelien – March 16, 1920 – October 20, 2016
Duane Urness – June 3, 1932 – February 23, 2017
Hazel Winton – March 5, 1925 – August 21, 2017

Praying God’s peace and presence for each family member who will be remembering those who have gone before them!

Paul

Happy Reformation!

Central,

HAPPY REFORMATION DAY!

500 years ago (October 31, 1517), on the eve of All Saints day Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the All Saint’s Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Luther’s theses called for the reform of the church.

This morning at our staff meeting we prayed for the body of Central that the Holy Spirit would be embedding the FIVE SOLAS in us in our everyday real lives. May we know Scripture Alone, Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Christ Alone and the Glory of God Alone!

16 years before Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the door of the church for public debate and discussion a young Martin Luther entered the University of Erfurt at the age of 17. He had some knowledge of the Bible but it was probably limited to the stories from the artwork of St. George’s church. Little did young Martin Luther realize that his life would be dramatically changed. In the years that followed Luther began to read the Bible in a whole new way: in the pages of Scripture, he discovered, God was actually speaking to him.

There is much to consider when we remember the Reformation BUT for today my prayer for the body of Central is that each one of us will know Jesus on daily basis as we read the Scriptures! 

If you haven’t been reading the Bible regularly I pray that today you pick up the Bible and begin to read it. Like Luther, may you discover that God actually speaks to you in and through the Word!

Paul

P.S. Thank you to Joan Ruprecht for sharing her painting of Luther nailing the 95 Theses to the door of All Saints Church.

What Drove Luther’s Hammer?

Central,

Thanks to Joan Ruprecht for her painting of Luther nailing the 95 theses on the doors of All Saint’s Church in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517. What drove Luther’s hammer? Why did Luther feel so compelled to stand up and proclaim the timeless truths of the Gospel? The Lord declares in Jeremiah 23:29, “Is not my word like fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” 

 

What drove Luther? The Word of God! Why did Luther boldly speak out against the abuses in the Church culture of his day? The Word of God! What freed Luther from fear, guilt and shame? The Word of God!

We know that “heaven and earth will pass away but the Word will remain forever.”We know that “we do not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” How is your relationship to the Word? Are you spending time in the Word? Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus does your heart burn when Jesus opens the Scriptures to you?

If not, I encourage you find a quiet place, get on your knees and ask the Holy Spirit to fall afresh on you and create in you a new love for JESUS, the living Word of God! Ask God to show you where you need reform in your life?

This Sunday, in celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, it is our privilege to welcome Dr. Victor Ezigbo to Central. Victor is the Department Chair and Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Bethel University.

And at 2:00 we celebrate the Rite of Confirmation for 45 students who have spent the last few years in Central’s student ministry and are now publicly affirming their faith in Jesus Christ! 

Thanks to Kaycee Stanley and Isaac Tewes for their leadership in the Student Ministry! Thanks to the 40 plus adults who love on our students as they lead Journey Groups! Thanks to each of the confirmands for their presence in Central! And thanks to each of you for your prayers for Central!

Paul

Help Me! I promise I’ll be…

Central,

“St. Anne, Help me! I will become a monk!”, cried Martin Luther.

It’s been over five hundred years since Luther cried out, “St. Anne, help me! I will become a monk!” Luther’s father worked in mining and he wanted his son, Martin, to be a Lawyer. One day young Martin was caught in the middle of a terrible thunderstorm. Lightning struck closely enough to knock him to the ground. Terrified he cried out “St. Anne, help me! I will become a monk.”

I have never prayed to St. Anne – or any other designated Saint – but this was common in Luther’s family, as she was the patron saint of miners. I suspect most of us have never prayed to Saints BUT I bet that most of us have been in such dire straits that we have cried out to God and made some bargain; “Lord if you heal me I will do this….” Many of the Psalms follow this pattern. Luther followed through on his promise and became a Monk, much to the chagrin and disappointment of his Father.

When he became a Monk, he had no idea as to how God was going to use him. One of the most significant things Luther did was to protest a faith life based on fear. Luther was committed to living a holy life and was willing to do almost anything to please God. He was afraid of what would happen if he disappointed God. Fear was at the heart of his faith.

Reading his Bible, he discovered the heart of the Gospel. God is a God of love, mercy, compassion, forgiveness. Luther never recommended that anyone cry out in terror as he had. He encouraged people to love and trust in God’s goodness. He urged us to reach out to God like a child held by its mother, full of need, but trusting the embrace of a loving mother.

Am I good enough? No! Will I ever do enough to fulfill the expectations of God? No! At the end of the day, Luther insisted that we are all beggars and that Christ has done everything necessary for us to be fully restored to God and neighbor.

My prayer for you is that you will know JESUS and remember that He has done everything necessary for you!

Paul

P.S. Dr. Victor Ezigbo, from Bethel University, will be our guest preacher this Sunday as we celebrate the Reformation!

Soli Deo Gloria

Central,​​​​

Soli Deo Gloria or Glory to God Alone!

Who is God’s glory?
What is the glory of God?
Why is God’s glory important?
How is God’s glory revealed?
Where is the glory of God?
When is God’s glory present?

On Sunday we will consider God’s Glory! For Martin Luther and the Reformers, the question was simple: How can anyone recognize the God’s Glory if they don’t look at Jesus Christ? Hebrews 1:3 tells us, “Jesus is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.” Consider two of Luther’s thoughts about God’s glory;

  • “The doctrine of the Gospel takes all glory, wisdom, righteousness, etc., from men and ascribes them to the Creator alone, who makes everything out of nothing.”
  • “It is not sufficient for anyone, and it does him no good to recognize God in his glory and majesty, unless he recognizes him in the humility and shame of the cross.”

The Cross reminds us that we see the God’s Glory coming to us most completely at the place of greatest loss, weakness and brokenness. Please join me in praying that the Holy Spirit will have his way amongst us as we gather for worship on Sunday.

Paul

Faith, Fakery and St. Francis

Central,

Think back for a few minutes about what God was doing 500 years ago. In the western world where Christian faith was being more and more characterized by lists of duties and obligations rather than deep faith, people like Luther, Calvin and Zwingli shredded their own résumés and tacked up a different set of criteria on places like that door in Wittenberg.

For them it was all about faith — sola fide, sola gratia — God’s grace offered freely to everyone regardless of their checkered past of deeds good and bad. Like Paul, they saw God’s grace as the foundation for their salvation, not our own feeble attempts at “faking it” as people we’re not.

The God who created us knows us intimately — no background check needed — and yet still seeks to love us, change us, employ us as God’s hands and feet in the world. The good news for us is that, through Christ, God saves us by Grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-10). We can’t earn this nor do we deserve it. Faith, belief in God’s love for us and confidence in God’s saving grace, is the only qualification needed.

St. Francis, who lived long before Luther, prayed the following prayer day after day, for months while kneeling in little broken down church outside Assisi called San Daminano.

Most high, glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart
and give me, Lord,
correct faith, firm hope, perfect charity, 
wisdom and perception, 
that I may do what is truly your most holy will.
Francis relationship with God was as intimate as anyone in history.

 There’s a lot to unpack in this prayer. Print it out, and try praying it every day for the next month. Francis’s relationship with God was as intimate as anyone in history. Yet he began by recognizing the reality that God is “high” and “glorious.” When we know God’s magnificence is immeasurable, that God holds all the galaxies in the palm of God’s hand, we then are moved by the miracle of God’s tender, deeply personal attentiveness to us, God’s mercy that is even more powerful than the forces that brought the universe into being.

And what, first and foremost, does Francis ask God to give him? CORRECT FAITH! May this be cry of our heart: Lord Jesus give us FAITH! This Sunday, our Director of Mission, Sonja Knutson will be sharing the message on FAITH. Read Ephesians 2:8-10 and pray that God will give you faith. For we know “without Faith it is impossible to please God.” – Hebrews 11:6.

I look forward to worshipping with you on Sunday!

Paul

In Remembrance of Wesley Cottrell

Central,

Thanks be to God for the life and memory of Wesley Richard Cottrell. 

Wesley was born October 8, 1932, married Darlene on April 9, 1960 and passed away on Sunday, October 1, 2017. Wes was preceded in death by both parents and two brothers. He is survived by wife, Darlene, daughters Pamela Cottrell, Carolyn (Pat) Mitzuk, and Gretchen Marcotte and 5 grandchildren and one great granddaughter.

The funeral service for Wesley will be held on Friday, October 6th, 2017 at 11 AM at Central. A visitation will occur 1 hour before the service and fellowship lunch will take place after the service. In Christ’s Name, WELCOME!

Let us pray for Darlene, Pamela, Carolyn, Gretchen and family that they will know the peace of God that passes all understanding.

“Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” – I Corinthians 15:57

Paul

Las Vegas Massacre and Tears

Central,

Last night I received a voicemail at 1:40 in the morning. My friend cried out, “Hey Paul I am so scared. I am in Las Vegas and in a tunnel in a hotel. Please pray. I am so afraid.” I heard his tears. Once again, we are moved to tears by the senseless and evil act in Las Vegas. 

Tears speak much louder than words. And so it is with our great, gracious and merciful God. God is touched by our tears, our hurts and brokenness. The Psalmist says that God keeps our tears in a bottle.

PLEASE PRAY for the victims and their families!

PLEASE PRAY for the Civic leaders and first responders who run towards the danger and not from the danger!

PLEASE PRAY for the Churches of Las Vegas as they witness to the power of Christ in the midst of such evil and tragedy!

The last time tears are mentioned in the Bible is Revelation 21:4. It reveals that day when “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” This is our hope. God preserves all our tears in a bottle, and one day He will wipe them all away. 

This Sunday we will begin our worship services with bells of remembrance for the victims of this horrific and tragic massacre. May we cry and pray knowing that our great God is touched by our prayers of tears.

Paul

 P.S. My friend is safe but shaken.

Amazing Grace

Central,

This Sunday we gather around a second timeless truth of the Reformation, GRACE ALONE! 

What is Grace? Grace is GOD’S RICHES AT CHRIST’S EXPENSE! Grace empowers you to become who God says you are! Grace is the gift of to become what God sees and knows about us in Christ. It enables us to become and be a new creation; God’s precious sons and daughters. God initiates and we respond.

The truth of who Jesus is both in us and for us becomes ours by receiving this gift of the Holy Spirit. Paul writes, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away: see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation: that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake God made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:16-21)

This Sunday we will be living in Luke 15. Take some time to read these marvelous stories of God’s Grace, Mercy and Love! Particularly take some time to mediate upon the 10 actions of the Father to the younger son in Luke 15:20 – 24. This is the story of AMAZING GRACE!

I look forward to worshipping with you at 8:15, 9:30 or 11:00!

Paul