Devotional Thought, Events

Worship Services Cancelled

This has been one of the saddest days of my life.

It started out OK. I left early this morning for a circuit meeting in Overland Park. We had text studies on Hebrew and Greek portions of the Bible and talked over a recent paper on the role of men and women. We also talked about the fallout of the Coronavirus.  We all concluded that we would continue to have worship services as long as we could.

I got home in time to conduct a conference call for another Math teacher at NELHS. The call meeting went well, but afterwards we were informed that NELHS would be canceling classes as of Friday and attempting to continue with online classes.  The staff is determined to do the best they can.  Pray for them.

This led to me check to see if any details about public gatherings had changed here in Wichita.  They had.  The “recommendation” to not have public gatherings of over 50 people had now become a “mandate” in Sedgwick County. I started to come to grips with the fact that since we have over 50 people at almost every one of our services, we would have to suspend worship indefinitely.

Admittedly, I’ve been concerned about where this virus was taking us. But, honestly, I didn’t think it would come to this. For the first time in my 32+ years of ministry, I won’t be conducting services on Sunday mornings (or Wednesday evenings).

I spoke with the Board of Elders this evening, and the decision was made to suspend services until further notice.  We also decided the following:

  • I will be sending out another email to all members with a link for WELS congregations that stream or record their worship services (a service that we do not provide but will look to add in the future).
  • I will be sending out written sermons for Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings for now, with the possibility of recording devotions/sermons/weekly updates in the near future.
  • Members will be encouraged to mail their offerings to the church or to give them online (the link is listed below).
  • Midweek activities (such as Bible Information Classes, Confirmation, Mailing Volunteers) will continue.  The church council will also meet on Sunday, as scheduled.
  • Easter for Kids, scheduled for April 4, has been canceled.
  • The Vision-Traction Organizer seminar this coming weekend has been postponed to June 26-28.
  • Easter invitations will not be sent out with the uncertainty of when services will resume. The Easter breakfast has also been canceled.
  • I will make myself available for visits either at members’ homes or at church for anyone who wants to visit and to provide the Lord’s Supper.
  • The child care center will remain open until the Health Department tells us otherwise.

As I mentioned in Sunday’s sermon, the Lord will use even this virus to “display his glory.” For the time being, that glory may seem hidden, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t there.  God just hasn’t chosen to reveal it yet.

Until he does, we’ll trust him.  We’ll serve him the best way we can.  And we’ll continue to preach his saving gospel. It’ll just be done in a different way for a while.  But, rest assured, we will continue to be blessed.  That’s God’s promise.

But I’m still sad. For me as a pastor, Sunday morning worship is the highlight of my week. I get excited about spending time with the body of Christ, knowing that through Word and Sacrament, God is blessing his people. So I selfishly ask you to pray for me. Pray for our church. Pray for our world. And I’ll continue to pray for you.

I will continue to share more information as it becomes available (it seems to change several times a day!). As always, feel free to contact me if you have questions or concerns. Above all, let me know when I can come visit you. I still need to be among the Lord’s people.

Devotional Thought

It’s Good To Be Home!

When Ross was growing up, his family often went on camping trips lasting two or three weeks. They always slept in a tent — never in a motel.

As a kid, Ross loved camping. There was the adventure of driving across the country. There was the opportunity of pitching a tent in many different places. There was the beautiful scenery. For the most part, he thought it was great.

Camping gets old, however! After a couple weeks of it, Ross was ready for a real bed. He wanted something more comfortable and permanent. As his family finally pulled into their driveway, he would say to himself, “It’s good to be home!”

As good as it is to be home, earthly homes are not permanent. In fact, God’s Word compares all of life to an extended camping trip (Read Hebrews 13:14.)! It’s like always living in a tent.

While there may be days of adventure, life on this earth also includes dreary days, days of discomfort and pain, days of sadness — even death. That’s because of our sin.

Facing death can be a frightening aspect, especially if we don’t know what comes after it. That’s why Jesus means so much to us!

Jesus “tented” among us. Only his earthly life was not once marred by sin. Rather, he took on your sin and mine. He suffered and died for our sin. He then rose from the dead to prove that he paid for our sin in full.

Because of what Jesus did, we have the hope “that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands” (2 Corinthians 5:1).

Do you ever get tired of life? Escaping is not the answer. Jesus is.

Jesus has taken care of the problem that underlies all of our problems. Because of him, all Christians are able to say without fear of contradiction: It’s good to be home!


Devotional Thought

Have a Good Day!

What do you say to someone who says, “Have a good day”? Have you ever felt like saying, “I wish I could”?

Wouldn’t it be nice if we always did have a good day? Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. Some days are miserable. Some days we spin our wheels. Some days are filled with pain, perhaps physical and perhaps emotional. Some days we’re just sick and tired of being sick and tired.

It is possible to have a good day every day. Jesus says so.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. . . . You will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28,29).

Jesus died to pay for all we’ve ever done wrong and to free us from a guilty conscience. He offers rest and peace. He even promises to take his children to live with him in heaven. He proved it by coming back to life.

So even on a bad day, we can know our Savior is watching over us. Even when everything seems wrong on earth, we can have the bright hope of bliss in heaven.

Jesus came to rescue you and me from this world for a better one. Because of him we know who we are, why we are here, and where we are going.

Be sure and join us for worship each Sunday (and Wednesday nights during Lent!) to hear more about what Jesus did for you. Oh, and have a good day!


Devotional Thought

Help When You Really Need It

“Pastor, I just got laid off at work, and I can’t pay my rent. The landlord says if I don’t have the money in two days, he’ll evict me. Does the church have any money to help me?”

Churches often get such calls — from total strangers.

It is not always a financial crisis that prompts a call for help. Sometimes it is a marriage problem. Other times people are suffering from abuse of one kind or another.

With our rapid mobility, family and friends are spread across many states. They can’t easily come to each other’s aid. In time of crisis, people turn to the government for help. What they often find is red tape, overburdened resources, and long waits.

People look to the church as a last resort. They are wise to do so. They are not so wise to wait until the roof falls in.

God uses his church family to minister to people in their needs. David writes in Psalm 37:25, “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.”

Rarely have God’s people failed to help one another in time of need. Usually God’s people go way beyond what is needed to help in crisis.

God provides more than just material needs through his church family. Crisis always brings emotional and psychological turmoil. An impersonal government agency cannot meet these needs. God can and does through his people.

God’s people know Jesus. They want to reflect his generous and loving life.

Jesus gave his life on the cross to pay the punishment for our sins. His sacrifice removes God’s anger, gives forgiveness, and brings the assurance of heaven. Only Jesus truly answers the fear, anxiety, and guilt that usually go with crisis.

God’s people want to share this good news and their love.  But please, don’t wait for the roof to fall in.


kneeling at cross
Devotional Thought

God Forgives Me

“I’ll forgive, but I’ll never forget what she did to me! How can one human being do such a horrible thing to another?”

Have you ever heard words like that? Perhaps you have said them!

Can a person really forgive and not forget? Often someone who won’t forget, really won’t forgive either.

It isn’t fun or easy to clash with someone. It causes stress and turmoil. We might wish that person were not around, but she may never go away.

Thank the Lord that he forgives and forgets!

If God forgave but never forgot, we would be in deep trouble. We would always have to fear that God might change his mind about how much he loves us. We would always have to worry about being punished in hell. We would always have to try to make him forget by doing something good, and then wondering if it was enough.

God does forgive and forget! The writer of Psalm 103 says in verse 12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” God is telling us that he considers the sins of his people to be long gone.

Really? Yes! God says, “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Jeremiah 31:34). That is forgiving and forgetting!

God’s love for us is so great that he sent Jesus to take our place to suffer and die on the cross. There Jesus took the punishment for all our sins. We don’t have to suffer in hell. Believe that and receive the wonderful, loving benefits of your Savior’s efforts.

Forgiveness is not something we deserve from God. Far from it! It’s a product of his amazing love.

In grateful response to what Jesus has done for us, we will want to be forgiving also. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Forgive and forget? Indeed! Jesus did it for you, and, if you believe that, he expects that you will want to forgive and forget the sins of others too.