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February 2017 Newsletter Article

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” Romans 10:13-15.

It used to be that people felt an obligation to attend and participate in a church congregation. Everyone went to church, and if you didn’t go to church, you were morally suspect. Back then, you did not have to question whether or not people knew about Jesus Christ, they all came to church and heard the Word from the pastor each week. But this is not the world we live in today. More people in our community do not attend church than do. In this world, we cannot assume our neighbors have heard the good news of Jesus Christ, and we cannot assume our congregation will continue to thrive or even exist. If the Body of Christ is to continue to be present in our community, it is up to us to make His presence known in our community. So, how can we show our neighbors that Jesus Christ is present among us?

Martin Luther taught that Jesus Christ and His kingdom are not made visible simply in the presence of the church. The visible church is not the same thing as the visible kingdom of heaven. Jesus Christ and His kingdom are made visible in this world in only three ways: through the sharing of the Good News (Proclamation), the forgiveness of sins (Reconciliation), and the loving of a neighbor (Consolation). It is only when one of these three signs of the kingdom is brought in contact with our neighbors that they are able to witness Jesus Christ and His kingdom present with them. These three signs represent the three types of ministry with which the Body of Christ should be engaged.

Ministry of Proclamation – This is sharing of the Good News with our neighbor. The proclamation of the Good News is essential for the salvation of our neighbor. This also tends to be the type of ministry with which members of the congregation feel most uncomfortable. There are two types of proclamation ministry: active and passive. The active proclamation of the Gospel is what you hear me do each week in my sermon. The passive proclamation is the sharing of the good news of Jesus Christ with another when asked by that person. This is the responsibility of each one of us. “In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

Ministry of Reconciliation – As sinners we live lives of alienation. Alienated from one another and alienated from God. It is through God’s forgiveness that He reconciles Himself to us. This reconciliation is the substance of the Good News that we proclaim. However, a ministry of reconciliation is engaged in reconciling the members of our community, one to another. Jesus Christ and His kingdom is not only concerned with our individual reconciliations between God and each of us. Our Lord is equally concerned with reconciling us to one another. When we sin against God we should repent and confess that sin to God and through that repentance and confession, receive His forgiveness. In the same way, when we sin against our neighbor, we should repent and confess to our neighbor so that we might be reconciled to that neighbor. And when our neighbor repents and confessed a sin against us, we must forgive and be reconciled. In a ministry of reconciliation, we foster confession, forgiveness, and reconciliation in our community. “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24).

Ministry of Consolation – We all have needs in this life and we all at times suffer.  We suffer hunger and thirst, we suffer loneliness, we suffer in the cold and the heat, we suffer sickness, and we suffer grief. A ministry of consolation is the showing the love of Jesus Christ to our neighbor by relieving the suffering they are experiencing. “’Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25:34-40).

We are the Body of Christ in our community and we are charged with making Jesus Christ and His kingdom visible in our community. If we do not do this, then how can we expect our neighbor to come to know Jesus. God saves by His grace, not by our works. But God has given each of us the great honor to serve as means of that grace, using us to bring the knowledge of Jesus Christ and His kingdom to our neighbor. So, how will we show our neighbors that Jesus Christ is present among us?

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies–in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:8-11.

 

 

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January 2017 Newsletter Article

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:11-14).

Epiphany:

  1. The visible manifestation of the invisible deity.
  2. A moment of sudden revelation or insight.

In January, we enter the season of Epiphany. Though most don’t give it much attention, Epiphany is one of the five great seasons of the Church (Advent, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost). Each season of the Church represents a primary facet of Jesus Christ’s ministry, and Epiphany is no different. While most people think of the three wise men when they think of Epiphany, Epiphany is not just the commemoration of the Adoration of the Magi. Rather, Epiphany is the season of Jesus Christ’s manifestation on earth and God’s revelation that Jesus is God the Son made flesh.

The specific events in the Gospels that we commemorate in Epiphany include:

  • The Nativity – The Epiphany of Christ in the Manger to the Shepherds;
  • The Adoration of the Magi – The Epiphany of Christ to the Gentiles;
  • The Baptism of our Lord – The Epiphany of Christ by the Father and the Holy Spirit; and
  • The Wedding Feast of Cana – The Epiphany of Christ through His own power.

But more than commemorating specific events that demonstrate the manifestation of God the Son in Jesus Christ, Epiphany is the season of the revelation of the Word of God made flesh. Jesus did reveal Himself in power (just as the angels proclaimed His coming, and the star proclaimed His coming, and God the Father and the Holy Spirit proclaimed His coming), but more importantly, Jesus revealed Himself in what He said and taught. Even more importantly, Jesus revealed Himself to us through what He did for us all on the cross. While we commemorate the visible manifestation of God in Jesus Christ, Jesus did not just come to be seen to be God. No, Jesus came for a purpose. He came to teach us, and to lead us, and to suffer and die for us, saving us from the power of sin and death. It is through His Word and through Christ’s death and resurrection, that God is revealed to us. This is the true Epiphany – God revealed to our heart by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ.

And this is an Epiphany that continues today. Each day, God is revealed to us in His Word. And that Word directs us to become the visible manifestation of the invisible God in this world. When we bring the love of Jesus Christ to our neighbor, it is an Epiphany. When we proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to our neighbor, it is an Epiphany. When we struggle, and suffer for Christ’s sake and the sake of the Gospel, it is an Epiphany. In our community, to our neighbors, we – as the Body of Christ – are God’s Epiphany today.

 

“Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord… who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel…” (2 Timothy 18-10).

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December 2016 Newsletter Article

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”  The voice of your watchmen – they lift up their voice; together they sing for joy; for eye to eye they see the return of the LORD to Zion” (Isaiah 52:7-8).

I love Christmas!  The trees and wreaths, the parties and carolers, the food and the gifts… more joy and excitement than could possibly be contained in just one day.  We often forget that Christmas is a season of the church that lasts 12 days (remember the carol?).  Christmas begins on December 25th and doesn’t end until January 5th.  But as you look around today, on December 26th it all appears to be over.  No more time for celebrating, no more time for gifts, no more time for carols, and no more time for the Christ child.  But like I said, Christmas includes more joy and excitement than could possibly be contained in just one day.  So what happened?  Christmas has devoured Advent, gobbling it up with the turkey and ham and washing it down with a large glass of Eggnog. So what has become of Advent?  Do we even know what it is all about anymore?  If you ask most people, they will tell you that Advent is the time that we look forward to Christmas and the coming of the Christ child.  And they would be wrong… or at least two thirds wrong.  In fact Advent not only represents the beginning of the church year, but the end of the previous year as well.

Advent is the season of expectation.  The looking forward to the coming of Jesus Christ into our world and into our hearts.  This expectation is not just about Christmas, but so much more.  In Advent we look forward to the coming of God the Son who was, who is, and who is to come.  It is about the incarnation of God the Son who took on flesh and became man.  Advent is a time to prepare ourselves to celebrate the anniversary of the Lord’s coming into the world as the incarnate God of love.  But it is also about the means of grace, through the sharing of the Good News and through the sacraments.  Advent is a time to prepare ourselves, to make our souls fitting abodes for the Redeemer coming in His body (the church), the bread, the wine, the water, and the Word.  And more than this, it is about the promised resurrection.  Advent is a time to prepare ourselves for the return of Jesus Christ in glory when He shall sit upon His throne and we shall be with Him rejoicing eternally.

So, it is OK to get ready for Christmas and look forward to the celebration of Jesus’ birth, but don’t stop there.  Let’s celebrate Advent for all it is worth.  Not just remembering what was, let us celebrate what is – Jesus Christ with us today, and what is to come – when Jesus returns and we are resurrected unto eternal life.

“’I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty’” (Revelation 1:8).

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November 2016 Newsletter Article

But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD!” (Jonah 2:9).

Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away and in the midst of your preparations for turkey and all the trimming; for bringing together family and friends; and of course the all important Thanksgiving football schedule, I’d like to ask you to take just a moment to stop and think about what it actually means to give thanks.  I mean when you think about it, our celebration of this annual day of Thanksgiving to God is a little strange. We thank you God for all of the blessings you have bestowed upon us this year, and so we will stuff ourselves full of food and lay around the TV and fight off catatonia while we watch the game. I have a hard time thinking of this as a day of Thanksgiving to God. For that matter, how is it possible to truly give thanks to God at all? Do we think that just saying “thank you” is giving thanks — as if our words of thanksgiving float up to God and He takes them and adds them to His collection? So just what does it means to GIVE thanks?

In the Old Testament it was quite clear. God did good for you and you owed Him a debt in response. You offered sacrifices of thanksgiving in payment of that debt to God for what He has first done for you. Those who are greatly blessed would be expected to give a great sacrifice of thanksgiving in response to how God had blessed them. While there was no expectation of equivalence between the blessing and the thanksgiving, there was the expectation of proportionality. In our Sunday worship we acknowledge the same need for response when we pray that God might accept our offerings and gifts in thanksgiving for what He has first given us. So there is such a thing as GIVING thanks, but for it to be thanksgiving, it must contain two key elements: it must be a response to the blessing God has given to us, and it must be a tangible, proportional (although not equivalent) response to that blessing.

So if we are called to give thanks in response to God’s blessing and that giving of thanks should be proportional to the blessing given, how can we as Christians truly give thanks for the blessing (grace) He has given us through faith in Jesus Christ? We have been blessed with the forgiveness of sins and everlasting life with Him. What could possibly be a proportionate giving of thanks to that? There is nothing we could ever give to God that could ever be seen as a proportionate response to this ultimate blessing of everlasting life paid through the ultimate price of suffering and death. And even if there was, God doesn’t need it! So, we who have been ultimately blessed, how can we begin to truly give thanks? Well it can’t be done just one day each year (although that’s a start). No. The only proportionate response to this ultimate blessings of life everlasting, is a life devoted to that giving of thanks as an unending overflowing of love in response to His unending gift of love. And just how do we give thanks to God – who does not now nor ever need anything from us? How can we give Him thanks? Jesus answered that question for us when He spoke the following words to Peter after His resurrection. Happy Thanksgiving!

“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”  He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”  He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17).

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October 2016 Newsletter Article

As I have grown older, I have come to appreciate more and more the miracle that is our eyes. Our eyes have 130 million light sensitive rods and cones that perceive the beauty of God’s creation reflected in the light. Our eyes also have the ability to automatically elongate or compress themselves, bringing the one thing we are looking at — whether up close or far away — into clear focus. But what is just as amazing is what our eyes are not suited to do. Our eyes are made to see in the light and not in the darkness. Have you ever thought about what it would be like to see with the eyes of a cat, making you completely at home in the darkness? Our eyes are made with relatively poor peripheral vision. We see clearly what is before us, but we do not easily perceive what is not directly before us. Have you ever thought about what it would be like to see with the eyes of a deer, perceiving all around you but not focusing on what is right in front of your face? Even more amazing that this is the fact that our eyes are made to see in only one facet, looking at something from only one perspective at a time. Have you ever thought about what it would be like to see with the eyes of a fly, looking at something in its many facets; from many perspectives at once? But no, God made our eyes the way He wants us to see. He made our eyes to see beauty in the light. He made our eyes to focus on one thing and see it clearly. He made our eyes to see things in one facet rather than many. And as I think about the miracle of our eyes, I have to ask myself a question. If God made us to see a certain way, would He not reveal Himself to us that way? If God made our eyes to see in the light; to see particularly and clearly; and to see in one facet, then it stands to reason that this is also how He wishes us to see Him.

This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness as all” (1 John 1:5, NIV). God made our eyes to see in the light, and God has revealed Himself to us as the light of the world. Think about that for a moment. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12, NIV). God made us to see in the light; He made us to walk in that light; and He revealed Himself as that light. So why is it that, throughout the history of the Church, we have spent so much time and effort looking for God in the dark recesses of our mind? Why have we spent so much time staring into the darkness in an effort to see what God is not in order to determine for ourselves what God is, when all the time He has revealed Himself to us not only in the light that He created us to see, but AS that very light?

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:4-5, NIV). God made our eyes to focus on one thing at a time, and God has revealed Himself as one. This oneness of God is more than a simple monotheistic statement in the face of the pluralistic world, it is a statement of how God has revealed Himself to us; how He wants us to perceive and understand Him. So why is it that, throughout the history of the Church, we have spent so much time trying to pick God apart like a frog being dissected in biology class? Why do we try so hard to exhaustively understand the various attributes of God in order to determine for ourselves what God is, when all the time He has revealed Himself to us in the way He made us to see? When I look at a friend; a loved one; a neighbor, I don’t see or try to focus on his attributes — examining each under a microscope. When I look at a friend; a loved one; a neighbor, I see that one person, in his oneness as a friend; a loved one; a neighbor. God made us to see one thing and God has revealed Himself to us as one, so that we can love Him wholly, with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength.

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:18-20, NIV). One of the greatest mysteries of God is His Trinitarian nature. We know that the Godhead is Trinity because God has been revealed in His Word as Trinity and God has been proclaimed as Trinity by God the Son Himself. But as much as we might know THAT God is Trinity, we are incapable of perceiving Him as Trinity. God did not make us to see in facets but to see singularly. And as God has made us to see singularly, God has revealed Himself to us singularly through the Son. In His incarnation, God in His Trinity did not become incarnate. Neither the Father nor the Holy Spirit became incarnate, but only the Son was revealed to us in the flesh. So why is it that, throughout the history of the Church, so much time has been spent trying to see and understand God in the fullness of His Trinity? Why do try so hard to see God as He is in order to determine for ourselves what God is, when all the time He has revealed Himself to us in the way He made us to see? We were not made to see in many facets, but one facet only and God has revealed the very fullness of Himself to us through one facet; through God the Son.

God made us to see Him and He revealed Himself to us in the very way He made us to see. This does not mean that we should ignore the Deus Absconditus (the hidden God), but it does mean that we should seek to know God’s hidden glory through the Deus Revelatus (God as He has revealed Himself). We can only truly see God as He has revealed Himself to us through God the Son’s incarnation, suffering and death. We see God clearly when we see Him on the cross. This does not mean that we should turn a blind eye to God’s attributes in order to see Him in His oneness, but it does mean that we should first see Him in the one person revealed to us, God the Son made flesh in Jesus Christ. As we seek to understand God’s omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence, we should understand those attributes through the person of Jesus Christ who set aside that omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence and took on all the limitations flesh, so that He might experience humiliation, suffering, and death for our sake. We see God clearly when we see Him on the cross. This does not mean that we should ignore God’s Trinitarian nature, but it does mean that we should seek to understand the Trinitarian facets of the Godhead only through and in relation to the one facet revealed to us, God the Son. Our only legitimate access to any understanding of the Trinity is in relation to God the Son and as He has proclaimed the Father and the Spirit to us. We can only see clearly in the way we were made to see and we can only thank God that He has revealed Himself to us in the way He made us to see Him.

But blessed are your eyes because they see” (Matthew 13:16, NIV).

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September 2016 Newsletter Article

Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching. When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you.

Proverbs 4:1-6

As parents you might be feeling a sense of giddy relief now that your children are back in school, or you might be feeling a little melancholy as your child heads off to college, but you may not realize that God calls us to the task of education and learning. Now I’m not just talking about the study of God’s Word (though that is definitely implied). No! All learning comes from God! But why has God called us to study? Well that’s an easy one to answer, God wants us to study so that we might grow in knowledge and wisdom and He wants us to grow in knowledge and wisdom for our own benefit.

It is easy for us to put God in a box; to hide Him away from most of our lives and just let Him out on Sundays and maybe holidays. As if God only cares about what you do in relation to Him and not anything else. Or maybe you think God wants you only to care about His stuff and anything else is a distraction. As if you should be unconcerned with your life day to day and even feel guilt or shame for caring about this life. But that’s not what God wants for you at all. God created you and gave you this life, not simply as a thing to go through on your way to everlasting life, but to be experienced and enjoyed now and throughout you mortal span. God wants you to live each day to its fullest! That’s why He gives you each and every day. And in order to live each day to its fullest, we must know all we can about the world and the life He gives us in it, as well as knowing all we can about Him who gives us each and every day. But that learning should not come to an end with the completion of high school, college, or grad school. God’s calling to learn does not come with an end date. God wants us to spend our lives learning and growing in wisdom: learning about Him, about ourselves, about our neighbor, and about God’s creation. The more we learn, the more we grow in wisdom and insight, and the more we get out of each day He gives us.

This fall, I will be teaching two classes that I’d like to encourage you to attend. On Tuesday evenings at Trinity, I’ll be teaching Lutheranism 101. This is a class for those who would like to revisit the things you may not have thought much about since you were confirmed, or for those who would like to better understand just what it means to be a Lutheran Christian. On Wednesday evenings at Badger, I’ll be teaching an in-depth Bible study on the Gospel of Mark. If you have only ever studied the Bible in little bits, without seeing each part in relation to the whole book, then this class may be just what you’re looking for. I hope to see you in one of these classes this fall. But even if you choose not to attend one of these classes, I hope you will commit to learning and growing in some way this fall. You’ll be amazed how God will bless you as you follow His call to learn. It’s time to go back to school, for all of us.

The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.” Hear, my son, and accept my words, that the years of your life may be many. I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness. When you walk, your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble.

Proverbs 4:7-12

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August 2016 Newsletter Article

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Ephesians 4:11- 16).

This passage is the one that for me most clearly defines my ministry. For while I am a part of the Body of Christ – no greater or lesser than any other part – I have been set aside by the Holy Spirit  to serve in the office of shepherd and teacher. This is the passage that has most clearly expresses what the goal of the pastor is. The pastor’s goal is not sound preaching or teaching (though this is important), it is not counseling those in emotional or spiritual distress (though this too is important), neither is it visiting the sick or home-bound (though this too is clearly important). These are all the tasks of the pastoral office, but they are not its objective. The objective of the pastor is spelled out here in chapter 4 of Ephesians. My task is to “equip the saints;” to prepare you. I am not here for your pleasure or your comfort, but for your equipping. For what purpose am I charged by God to equip you? “For the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” In other words I am charged with building together as one Body the members of the congregation that this joined Body might engage in the “work of ministry.” And what is the work of ministry? Well this text tells us that as well, “we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” In other words, the joined and equipped Body of Christ – when it is working properly – will do the things in the world that will build itself up. What does this mean? In a word, evangelism. Most of you are aware – if you have listened to my sermons – that I am passionate about evangelism. But for many, this notion may shut you down almost immediately. The idea of being involved in evangelism just does not feel like something you can do. You’re not going to start knocking on your neighbor’s doors and handing out tracts. You’re not going to corner your friend and “share” with them your testimony. You’re not going argue and convince those in your community that they should accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. But when I speak of evangelism for the Body of Christ, this is not what I’m talking about. If the Spirit moves individuals from among us to directly share the Good News with their neighbor – giving an answer for the faith in their heart – then I say “Praise God.” But that is not what I’m talking about. I do not believe that we are called to turn our neighbors into fellow believers – the working of faith is the work of the Spirit alone. I do however believe that we are commanded by Jesus to go and make disciples. We need to leave the call to believe in Jesus to the Holy Spirit and instead call our neighbors to “follow Him.”

To do this, we must all commit our congregation to three tasks. These are tasks that any farmer should be well acquainted with: Planting, Watering, and Harvesting. When we plant in our field, we plant the seed of Christ’s love. We don’t do that by knocking on doors or handing out tracts, or standing on our soap box. But by doing things in our community – not just individually but as the Body of Christ – that clearly show the entire community Christ’s love. When we water, we nurture individual members of this community with the love of Jesus Christ. This does not mean browbeating them to accept Jesus. But by finding those individuals in our community who are in need and caring for them just as Jesus Himself would. When we harvest, we – as the Body of Christ – invite those in this community to come and follow Jesus. We don’t have to confront and challenge our neighbors to fall on their knees and accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. God claims us – we don’t have to worry about getting people to claim Him. Rather, we must create opportunities for our community to hear the call to follow Jesus as we gather together to worship and praise His name. All of this constitutes the process of making disciples. As we faithfully do this, we can trust that the Holy Spirit will handle the rest.

No one member of the Body can hope to accomplish this – not even your pastor. But God does not give this entire task to an individual, but to the entire Body of Christ. Ask yourself one question. Are you a member of the Body of Christ? If so, then this is your responsibility, given to you by God. Not all of it, but as a member of the Body, each one of us are commanded to be a part of this work. Let us work together to develop opportunities for the Body of Christ here to plant, water, and harvest in our field. I ask that each one of you pray that God strengthen you and commit your heart to fulfill what our Lord has entrusted to you as a member of His Body.

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field” (1 Corinthians 3:6-9).