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Committing to God in the New Year

Pastor Nirmala Reinschmidt
Interim Pastor

“I never make New Year’s Resolutions, anymore,” the man told me, “I never keep them, anyway.” I can remember all too many resolutions I’ve made and let slip away, too. But I believer New Year’s resolutions are worth making. Let me tell you why.

First, we all need changes. Some we find very hard to admit to ourselves. I’ve heard people say, “I have no regrets about my life, if I had it to do over, I’d do it the same way again.” But that attitude is way too blind and self-serving so far as I’m concerned. There is great power in confession-to ourselves, to God, to others. Owning up to our failures is the first, painful step on the road to something better.

Second, when we change calendars is a good time for assessment. How did last year go? What do I want to do differently this year? This time of year always reminds of a passage of Scripture, better understood by farmers than suburbanites: “Break up your unplowed ground, and do not sow among thorns” (Jeremiah 4:3). It makes sense. The more land you put into production, the more prosperous you’ll be.

Let me as ask you a question. What percentage of your life is producing something of value to God? How much “unplowed ground” do you have that ought to be broken up in this coming year and made useful? Reassessment. The brink of a new year is a good time for reassessment.

Third, New Year’s is an excellent time for mid-course corrections. Sure, we might fail in what we set out to do, but if we fail to plan, the old saw goes, then we plan to fail. One of my favorite characters in the Bible is Apostle Paul. Talk about failure! Throughout his life he was opposed, persecuted, shipwrecked, and stoned. Sometimes it seemed that projects to which he had devoted years were turning to dust before his eyes. But during his time in prison, he wrote” Forgetting what is behind, and straining toward what is ahead, I press toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). No wonder he made a mark on his world. He stopped looking back and looked forward instead. He didn’t let the fear of failure keep him from trying again.

Fourth, New Year’s is a time to learn to rely more heavily on the grace of God. Now I’ve met a few self-made men and women and so have you, but so often these people seem proud and driven. There is another way: beginning to trust in God’s help. One more lesson from the Apostle Paul: “I can do all things through God who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13)

If this last year, you didn’t practice relying on the Lord as much as you should have, there is no time like the present to make a New Year’s resolution. In fact, why don’t you say a short prayer right now-use these words if you like. “Dear God, I want the new year to be different for me.” Now spell out in prayer some of the changes you’d like to see. And close this way: “Lord Jesus, I know that I’m going to need a lot of help for this. So right now, I place myself in your hands. Help me to receive your strength. Amen”

I encourage you to commit your life to Jesus and make Him as your Lord who is willing to guide and direct your life. Please continue to Worship and Serve Him with your gifts and talents. I extend my heartfelt thanks for supporting the mission of St. John’s Lutheran Church.

Have a Blessed New Year!
Pastor Nirmala Reinschmidt

New Year’s Resolutions

Pastor Nirmala Reinschmidt
Interim Pastor

“I never make New Year’s resolutions, anymore,” the man told me, “I never keep them, anyway.” But I believe New year’s resolutions are worth making.

Let me tell you why.

First, we all need changes. Some we find very hard to admit to ourselves. There is great power in confession—to ourselves, to God, to others. Owning our failures is the first, painful step on the road to something better.

Second, when we change our calendar is a good time for reassessment. How did last year go? What do we want to do differently this year? Let us ask us a serious question. What percentage of our life is producing something value to God? How much “unplowed ground” do we have that ought to be broken up in this coming year and made useful? Reassessment.

Third, New Year’s is an excellent time for mid-course corrections. Sure, we might fail in what we set out to do, but if we fail to plan, the old saying goes, then we plan to fail. Failure is not the end. For the person who determines to learn from it, failure is a friend.

One of my heroes in the Bible is the Apostle Paul. Talk about failure! Throughout his life he was opposed, persecuted, shipwrecked, stoned and left for dead, slandered, and scorned. But during his life in prison he wrote, “Forgetting what is behind, and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Phil.3:13-14). Paul did not let the fear of failure keep him from trying again.

Fourth, the new year is a time to learn to rely more heavily on the grace God. One more secret from the Apostle Paul: “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength,” he said (Phil. 4:13). And God’s strength saw him through pain, through joy, and through accomplishment. Let us rely on God who is our refuge and strength.

May the grace of God abide with you and carry you through this new year.

Peace and Joy!

Miss Amanda’s Musings

amandasabelko2016-1Amanda Sabelko
Children, Youth, & Family Development Director

Happy New Year!

Do you have something you want to accomplish this year? Maybe it has to do with your finances, health, or maybe your spiritual practices?

As you think about your resolution for the year, consider doing something to share your passion (whatever it is) with other people! I am passionate about learning how to equip people for ministry. I live this out in my day to day life, but this year I plan to live out that passion with trust in the way God works in our lives and world.

Although it was postponed, thank you so much to all of our teachers, parents, and students for helping to prepare for the wonder of the Christmas Story through the Christmas Program! The Children’s Christmas program will take place on January 15 at the 10:15 am service.

FAITH, The Yes of the Heart – our Epiphany Series

RandyFettPastor Randy Fett
Lead Pastor

New Year, lighter, longer days, “Epiphany.” The word means “light.” Some of my best memories of January 6, the day that we as Christians honor as the coming of the light, as Epiphany, the visit of the wise men who followed the star to Jesus’ birth at Bethlehem, is when we all gathered around to toss our old Christmas trees into a big bonfire. We sang and shouted, and we prayed for God’s light, for the true light to be with us and to guide us in the New Year.

In this New Year we are going to begin our Worship reflections with the theme, “FAITH, The Yes of the Heart.” You might remember that our Fall 2015 kick-off theme for 2016 Stewardship and giving in the church is “Say Yes from the heart.” In a way this is a continuation of that. We need to keep this continually before ourselves. Epiphany is really about Jesus calling disciples. He calls each of us to faith. As we track with the story of Jesus in the gospels of the New Testament, this is the time when Jesus is developing his ministry and just getting started. We don’t have any parables as yet. It is not yet the story of Jesus’ journey to the cross and his resurrection. It is a time of newness and beginnings. He begins by calling people to faith. He calls people to follow and they leave what they are doing and follow. We should say that it is that simple and that complex. Faith is simple too.  Grace Adolphsen Brame states in the book by the same title as our sermon series in Epiphany: “Faith is not just a matter of understanding God, but of experiencing the real presence of the holy. It is not just a matter of saying what we believe, but of living what we believe, practicing what we preach. Faith is the mortar that binds us to others who have made a covenant with the same creator and parent. Faith is what empowers us to dare to share what matters most with others who are searching for meaning and purpose in their lives…Faith is what Luther called ‘the yes of the heart.’” (Faith, The Yes Of The Heart, Augsburg, 1999, p.12).

During January, in the context of worship, we will also take some time at our three worship services each week to reengage our mission, to do some check-ins with what we value most as a church, and what our strengths and challenges are as we move forward in faith together. We have put a new “Revision” team together. They will meet monthly. They will also include you, our leaders, and our staff in the formulations along the way. We will keep you posted and strive to communicate our workings with you.

Miss Amanda’s Musings – January 2016

Amanda Sabelko CYF Ministry Development DirectorAmanda Sabelko
CYF Ministry Development Coordinator

Thank you so much to all of our teachers, parents, and students for helping to share the wonder of the Christmas Story through the Christmas Program! The Children’s Christmas service is such a blessing to our families and community.

As we look forward to a new year, I’m reminded of new beginnings. We are given so many opportunities to start over – again and again.

What are you planning to begin again this year? Often times we start with a focus on ourselves, however I challenge you to keep your focus on serving others and being a light in our community. Still have clutter around your home? Give away one thing for every gift you got at Christmas. How about all that extra food you have “just in-case”? Go ahead and donate it. Why not start this year with a generous spirit?

Continue to bless others out of the abundance you’ve been given!

Click on the image to view more pictures from the Christmas program.

Click on the image to view more pictures from the Christmas program.