Archives

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

Cheerful Givers

Pastor Nirmala Reinschmidt
Interim Pastor

“Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful givers.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

There are three types of givers: the flint, the sponge, and the honeycomb. To get anything out of the flint, you have to hammer it. Then you only get chips and sparks. To get water out of the sponge, you have to squeeze it. The more you squeeze, the more you get. But the honeycomb simply overflows with sweetness.

When a person understands what God has done for them, you don’t have to prime them to give and you don’t need ten requests. They understand that He is a great God. In fact, at offering time, we ought to jump to our feet and applaud that we are here to give, have something to give, and have been blessed to have strength enough to work that we might be able to give. We ought to just applaud the privilege of giving.

Apostle Paul talks about the Macedonian Christians who are cheerful givers. Their hearts are filled with thankfulness to God. So they share their blessings with Paul to do his mission. Apostle Paul was so proud of them. We pastors at St. John’s are proud of you too. You are like honeycombs. You share your time, talents, and treasures generously to support the mission at Christ Lutheran.

As you consider your future giving to St. John’s, please prayerfully consider to increase your giving as well sharing your time and talents to support the mission of St. John’s Lutheran church

Thanks again for your generosity!

True disciples

Pastor Nirmala Reinschmidt
Interim Pastor

Our western idea of faith as cushioned pews and convenient sacrifice flies right in the face of what Jesus called us to. It’s in Luke 9:23-24: “Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.’” To which you can almost hear someone saying, “In that case, I think I’d rather run my own life. It sounds like there’s too much to lose in following Jesus.” Well, you need to listen to Jesus’ startling equation, “For whoever wants to save His life (or hang onto his life) will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” Hang onto your life, you lose it. Give it away and you find it.

Maybe you’ve tried to discount Christianity. It’s very popular. Of course its only a pale shadow of the disciple Christianity Jesus calls us to. You go to the meetings, you believe the beliefs, you give in the offerings, you sometimes read your Bible, and you pray. But it’s a surface commitment, a commitment that still leaves you in control. My guess is that discount Christianity has left you unfulfilled and unsatisfied. It can’t satisfy you. You were made to be abandoned to Jesus, taking up a cross, making choices that might cost you, building His Kingdom instead of yours, and accepting assignments from Him that go way beyond your comfort zone.

And as for “the honor and the rewards?” Jesus said that no one who sacrificed for His great adventure” will fail to receive a hundred times as much in the present age…and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30). You can’t out-give Jesus. True Christianity is expensive but it’s ultimately fulfilling and rewarding.

Jesus asks you to take your commitment to Him at a whole new level. And you can be sure the cost of not following Him is far greater than the cost of following Him. He’s waiting for your answer to His invitation. By God’s grace, your answer will be, “Jesus, I will cheerfully join you and I will partake of the dangers, difficulties, and fatigues. I anticipate the honor and the rewards.

As we are beginning a new fall season, let us encourage each other to worship regularly, pray daily, give generously, and to serve others to show our love for God and for others. There are many opportunities here at St. John’s to help you to make that commitment.

Please keep our call committee in your prayer as they are discerning to call our new senior pastor.

Praying Together

Pastor Nirmala Reinschmidt
Interim Pastor

What is the distinguishing mark of the Christian church?

PRAYER

Throughout redemptive history, corporate prayer has been a primary focus of God’s people. Former ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson once commented that “A praying church is a growing church.” I am convinced of that truth throughout my ministry.

We must be praying people, first, because we know that our only help in the name of the Lord. It is the Lord who builds the house and watches over the city, who gives success to the church’s mission. In praying together, we admit that we are helpless. In prayer, we ask God to do the awakening, regenerating, maturing, and gifting that only He can do.

Secondly, when we pray together, we testify and remind one another that our hope comes from somewhere else entirely. We are not wringing our hands, desperate for human solutions.

Thirdly, when we pray together we grow in love for one another. Each person who is united to Christ, everyone who loves Him and is loved by Him, is also bound together with us in love.

I write this article to remind ourselves of the power of Corporate Prayer. It is a critical time in the life and the mission of St. John’s Lutheran Church. We have formed a call committee to choose our Senior Pastor.

We need to come together in Prayer seeking wisdom and discernment in selecting our new shepherd.

I am available on Mondays at 10:00 am to lead a prayer group. We gather just to pray. All are welcome!

Celebrate with Pastor Nirmala

Pastor Nirmala’s installation in Byron has been rescheduled to Sunday, May 6. She has accepted a call to Christ Lutheran Church in Byron. She will also continue to serve here at St. John’s. All are invited to attend the installation service in Byron at 8:00 am (traditional) or 10:00 am (blended). You are also invited to a celebration meal beginning at 11:30 am at Christ Lutheran. Sign up at the Welcome Center or in the office by April 29 if you plan to attend the meal.

Blessing

Pastor Nirmala Reinschmidt
Interim Pastor

Each Sunday, at the conclusion of our worship, I stand before the people, extend my hands, and speak a blessing over them. If I were ever to stop being a pastor, this may be what I would miss most.

In biblical terms, to bless is to declare God’s truth into someone’s life and to announce God as the gracious, sovereign Lord who intends to flood His children with goodness and joy. When we pronounce a blessing, we serve as witness to the truth that God’s generosity and power has not been extinguished. Regardless of the difficulties we face or the despair we know, God’s tenacious love will have the final word.

In the sermon on the mount, the Lord speaks blessings that reflect the subversive reality of God’s kingdom. Blessed are the poor in spirit, says Jesus. Blessed are those who mourn. Blessed are the meek and the hungry (see Matthew 5). With these strange words, Jesus makes a prophetic announcement declaring who is included in the blessing of God’s kingdom. Again and again, He affirms that blessings come to us not because of our ingenuity or effort but because God is kind and always working for our good.

Because we belong to the Lord who blesses, we live as a people who bless. In our corners of the world, we announce—and live as instruments of—His blessing. Whenever we bless others in Jesus’ name, we join God’s healing and restoration. We participate in His intentions to bless the world.

May the Lord help us to become people of blessing!

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!

Giving Thanks

Pastor Nirmala Reinschmidt
Interim Pastor

Thanksgiving holiday is upon us. Judging by the holiday’s name, the way to celebrate Thanksgiving seems pretty straightforward: What could be simpler than counting your blessings and saying a prayer of thanks for them.

  • But the beauty and simplicity of the day have, for many, become complicated by a host of things that divert attention from the object of our gratitude: ìThe Lord.î Expressing thanks can be difficult when our mind is preoccupied with expectations (our own as well as others’), a loved one isn’t there to celebrate with us, or for some it is a high stress occasion.
  • The truth is, on a day set aside for being grateful, many people feel miserable. In fact, Christians are no exception. However, regardless of our feelings, the Bible tells us to constantly give thanks to the Lord.
  • “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
  • Two reasons many of us don’t get the principle of thanksgiving right are somewhat opposite to each other.
    • We give thanks only for the things we feel thankful for.
    • We speak words of thanksgiving out of habit without truly grateful.

In the first case, we fall short of the goal laid out for us in God’s word — namely, to give thanks in everything. In the second case, we’re behaving religiously on the outside without being transformed on the inside. Instead of giving the Lord our gratitude, we are offering Him platitudes.

It is easy to be grateful when things are going well. What about the times when we feel that our life is falling apart? God want us to give thanks at all times, because He has a purpose for thankfulness. When we are thankful, we become more aware of His presence and more motivated to find His purpose. Thankfulness teaches us to trust God, build our faith, and recognize our dependence upon Him.

Count your Blessings! Be Thankful! Be generous!

Thank you

Pastor Nirmala Reinschmidt
Interim Pastor

Thank you so much for your care and prayers sent to us through sympathy cards and memorials. It truly brought us comfort and consolation. Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we mourn.

Pastor Nirmala’s father passed away August 13. She spent three weeks in India with her family, but she is back in the office now.

Vacation with Jesus

NirmalaReinschmidt2017webPastor Nirmala Reinschmidt
Interim Pastor

Summer time is a wonderful time of the year! The days are warmer and most of us take time off to go on vacation. Many like to go camping and fishing and others enjoy going to a different city to visit friends and families.

Who do you vacation with? Do you take best friend along with you? Do you spend time with Jesus in the summer? Many Christians find it very easy not to think much about Jesus all summer long. Many don’t attend worship as much, and some don’t come at all. Where are these people? Often they are out trying to have fun on their own without Jesus.

A woman said to me once, “Pastor, don’t worry, when September comes I will come back to church. This is my vacation from church.” This woman did come back to church in September. However, she also said that she was lonely for Jesus and that it felt good to come to church again and hear Jesus speak to her there through scriptures, hymns and the sermons. Think of how much happier her life and her summer could have been if she had regularly heard the Lord speak to her through the Bible. How refreshed she would have been to worship with her fellow Christians all summer long. We are blessed to have churches throughout the nation and the world. When you go on vacation make effort to find a church and go there to be refreshed by the Word and Sacrament. If you won’t be near a church make sure that you take your Bible, hymnals and the devotional books along to read and sing along with your families and friends to worship and praise the Lord. Make it a point that you remember to begin the day with the Lord and with His word and end the day with the Lord and with His word. True rest and Peace comes from the Lord and through His word alone.

Remember that our Lord Jesus be with us at all times. He never takes time off including summer. So we too should never take time off from Him. Let us remember that by His grace and patience alone that we live. As Hebrews 10:25 says “Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing, instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see the Lord is coming nearer”

May you all have a blessed summer!

vacation with jesus

Room for Baby Jesus

nirmala-reinschmidt-2016-webPastor Nirmala Reinschmidt
Interim Pastor

“There was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7)

Once a school put on a Christmas program. The children were planning to enact a nativity scene. Parents were invited to watch the program. All the preparations were made for the program to start. At that time a 4th grade boy went near the manger and was peeping into the manger again and again. One of the teachers noticed and asked the boy the reason for doing that. The boy replied that they forgot to put the baby doll in the manger. The teacher realized her mistake, thanked him for noticing, and put a doll in the manger. The play began.

In the midst of all our preparations we tend to forget the real hero of Christmas celebration. We are occupied with other activities, which prevent us from giving importance to Jesus. He is the reason for the season. Jesus is left out of our celebration. Yes! There is no room for Jesus.

Jesus came into the world and died in order to make room for us in heaven. Let’s remember to make room for Jesus. Take time to share Christmas stories with the children so they know baby Jesus is the reason for the season not Santa Claus and the gifts. Advent devotional booklets are available to have family devotions during the month of December. Invite family and friends to attend the Advent and Christmas services to make the season a meaningful one.

Thanks again for your generosity to support the mission and ministries of St. John’s.  May you all have a blessed Christmas!

Farewell from Pastor Nirmala

NirmalaReinschmidtI would like to thank all of you for giving me an opportunity to serve you with the Word and the Sacrament. I am honored to serve you who are faithful and committed. I encourage you to grow in your relationship with the Lord by attending worship, giving your time, talents and treasure to support the mission of St. John’s. Please keep me and my family in your prayers as we are waiting on the Lord to open a new door to serve Him.

Join us on Sunday, May 10, at coffee fellowship between services (8:30-10:30 am), to bid farewell to Pastor Nirmala.

Abide in Me

GardenSpring season is here. We all talk about our garden, plants, seeds, etc. While we are in gardening mode I would like to remind you of the greatest gardener who knows all about gardening, especially gardening of our souls. Jesus Said, “I am the vine, you are the branches; every branch that bears fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

This symbol of the vine and the branches gives a beautiful picture of the relationship between Christ and His disciples. I pray you see yourself as one of those branches of the vine and be connected with the Lord through His word so that the fruits of the spirits shining in and through your lives. Fruits of the spirits are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galations 5:22-23)

Jesus prunes or cleanses us so that we can bear more fruits. The same root word is used for both “prune” and “cleanse” in Greek. So through Jesus’ teachings we are being pruned so we can bear fruit. Have you ever read the Bible or heard it preached and felt a twinge of pain from it? Maybe it spoke to your heart about some way that you were not serving God as you should. When that happens to some people they think, “Well I must not have been a very good Christian or I wouldn’t be feeling convicted of that sin or lack of faith.” On the contrary, if you were unfruitful you would not feel that twinge. You would have been cut off from God and your heart would have been hardened to the spirit convicting you. But because you feel that twinge God is pruning you to make you more fruitful. The fact that the spirit is working on your heart proves that you must be producing fruit for God. It also shows that God foresees you producing more fruit.

When you are pruning your plants, remember that you are doing it so that your plants bear more fruits. In the same way, it is some of our most trying times that force us back to our Heavenly Father for comfort, strength, forgiveness, and direction. This is a part of the pruning process.

As we are Easter people let us continue to abide in Him to receive power to reflect His love through our loving service.

Peace and Joy,

Pastor Nirmala Reinschmidt

The Gift of Prayer

NirmalaReinschmidtDo you pray? Do you pray often, or only occasionally? Is prayer important to you?

I ask you these questions because prayer and praying are essential for your life of faith. Like a breath to the human body, prayer makes the spirit live. Without it, faith dies. On the other hand, person who prays grows in spirit and life.

Prayer is a gift of God. “Gift” is a good word to describe prayer, because praying is not something we can do of ourselves. “We do not know how to pray as we ought,” scripture says. Prayer is a gift God must give. God gives that gift generously to all. So we need to receive that gift and enjoy using it.

Why does God give the gift of prayer? The main reason is because God’s love for us.  God looks for intimacy with us. How strange that sounds! God all-sufficient, all powerful, all-knowing, wishes to draw close, to communicate, to speak to us, to seek our response, to hear our prayer. It may seem unbelievable, but it is true

At the same time, by praying we fulfill the desire we have as human beings to know God. After all, we are made in God’s image. Something in our being thirsts for intimacy with God. That thirst is described.

May we use this Lenten season as a time of worship and prayer

Peace
Pastor Nirmala Reinschmidt

You have found favor with God

At first, the sight of God’s messenger troubled Mary. However, the Lord immediately sent comfort to the one who would give birth to His son. Gabriel eased her fears:” Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30) The task that was set before this young woman was far too great for her. Only God could bring her safely through the months leading up to the coming of the Savior.

Are there times in your life when the challenges set before you seem too great or too difficult? God is with you, and He has the solution for your greatest need. In many cases, the dilemma we face is one, that God has allowed for a Specific purpose. He sent His son to a world entangled by political unrest, injustice, religious piety, and human suffering. There was no lasting peace in the hearts of mankind because there was no peace with God. God’s announcement to Mary that she would bear His son immediately brought conflict to her young life.. But her response was one of faith and obedience. She believed God: “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For the Mighty one has done great things for me; and holy is His name” (Luke 1:46-49).

You can gain the same peace that sustained Mary and brought eternal hope to her life by placing your trust in the Son of God, Jesus, the Prince of Peace, came to earth to save you and me.

Please invite your family and friends to our Christmas Services.

I, Paul, and Hannah wish you all “MERRY CHRISTMAS” & “BLESSED NEW YEAR”

Peace & Joy,
Pastor Nirmala Reinschmidt