Friday, May 13, 2022

Private Communion

We are discontinuing private communion on the 4th Tuesday of each month.  If you wish to commune privately, contact Pastor Al.

Help with Pastor Otto’s move!

Pastor Otto's furniture will arrive on Friday June 10 via PODS.  We are planning to help him move the furniture into the parsonage on Saturday, June 11, at 9:00 AM.  If you would like to volunteer to help with the move-in contact Tony Wimmer at 612-306-5329.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Join Us for Worship!


         Please join us for worship this Fifth Sunday of Easter, May 15, 2022, at 8:30 am.   
Fellowship in the link following worship.
   Stay for Bible Study at 9:45 am.
 Everyone is welcome!

Pastor’s Note

What is heaven like? I’ve probably had dozens of conversations with individuals who directly or indirectly have that question: “What is heaven going to be like?” What concepts did you grow up with when you thought about heaven? Did you picture little thinly clad cherubs with chubby cheeks? Were there bright fluffy clouds and sparkly castles in the distance? What is your vision of heaven now? Do you like thinking about heaven? Does it cause questions in your mind or settle you with the firm repose of a settled faith?  

One of the most common reflections from believers contemplating the concept of heaven is an uncomfortable concern. I even hear some believers

The Jewish understanding of “heaven” involved three points. The first was the arena in which birds flew and rain fell. In Matthew 5:26 Jesus talks about the birds of the air and the word used is the Greek word for heaven, ouranos. We might simply say, sky.

The second word use for ouranos is designated for talking about the location of the sun, moon and stars. They exist in the “heavens.” In Psalm 19:1, King David expresses a universal truth that the glory of God is seen in the heavens: “The heavens declare the glory of God.” We might say, outer space or the universe in today’s vernacular.

For the Hebrew believers, it is the third heaven (ouranos) that is the place where God Himself dwells. The apostle Paul speaks about it in 2 Corinthians 12 as he mentions being caught up to the third heaven. This is the usage of ouranos that points to our ubiquitous reference to the afterlife or Paradise.

That is also the same expression of ouranos that we see as the apostle John shares with us the vision of heaven in Revelation 21:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4)

What will heaven be like? The one thing that stands out to me is the word, “new.” God is making all things new. WHat is old and broken in our current situation under heaven, will no longer be ancient and decrepit - it will be made new. John shares with us some words of encouragement and insight from Heaven’s throne: “Behold, I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:5).

The word used for our English expression, “new,” denotes and understanding that all in heaven will be new in quality. It will have a freshness of quality and provide new opportunity.

Here is where our hearts can start to stir and be excited. Like a new book fresh and crisp, just removed from the plastic wrap, all things old and stained in our life will be new. Our failures will be erased and we will have, brand new, an opportunity to do perfectly what became a disappointment on this pale ground called Earth.

We can look to every thought and action that was trodden down by  age and regret - no longer any such disturbance; all will be made new. THis doesn’t necessarily erase or extend any pictures in our minds of what heaven may be like but hopefully it will cause us to see heaven as a fresh and brilliant, eternal opportunity to succeed at living. All that we experience here, with sin removed and flawless opportunities to enjoy who God made us to be, unfettered by mistakes and guilt. “Behold, I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:5)

Praise Jesus, the Lamb, who makes all things new. Until then, we anxiously wait for His return!

Blessings to you!

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Join Us for Worship!


                            Please join us for worship this Fourth Sunday of Easter, May 8, 2022, at 8:30 am.                      Fellowship in the link following worship.
   Stay for Bible Study at 9:45 am.
 Everyone is welcome!
Happy Mother's Day!

Pastor's Note

“He leads me in the paths of righteousness” (Psalm 23:3)
“He” is the Good Shepherd. Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd in order to contrast all the other shepherds that are out there in the world. We all follow some type of “shepherd” but what are the qualifications and character traits of the shepherds we follow? What is the path that they would have us trod? How does their voice sound and do they lead us in a good direction?
The Good Shepherd leads His people in paths of righteousness. Such a statement sounds rather mundane and simple-hearted. A path is a way of life based on a way of thinking. A path is a lifestyle. Yet to walk in a path means that we are turning our backs on other directions. We are leaving other “paths” behind in order to pursue God’s well designed pathway.
The lifestyle that the Lord Jesus Christ has for us IS the right path; He calls it the path of “righteousness”.  It is the right way as compared to the wrong way. 
THat should be easy to choose the right path, is that correct? Of course we should daily choose to go the way that God would have us go. That is assumed. But we miss the reality that myriads of other voices are in our world, growing ever stronger, leading society and even Christians away from the path of righteousness (Matthew 24:10-11). 
How far will sin drive humanity away from God’s order for life (the path of righteousness)? Sin sprouts and grows; it will cause angrier and larger fists to rise in opposition to what God says is right and true. Sin seeks to push the limits and call into question the validity of God’s directions for life. It is an ancient argument first thrust on mankind in the Garden of Eden - we fell for it then and fall for it now. Sin’s very nature does not want to be told what to do and will squirm and squeeze out any piece of legislation, any loophole to create a niche for what it calls “good and right,” “safe and acceptable”. But anything that opposes God’s eternally pure standard is not just a malformation; it is EVIL. 
I saw this in a headline story this week. It was a news clip that bemoaned the fact a sinful lifestyle and evil, destructive course of action was possibly going to be prohibited by a court decision. In very clever wording it said (paraphrase), “we can’t choose our own path anymore; our rights are being restricted.”
This is an era of humanity that is not being driven good logic or a pure moral compass. We are being led by our emotions; we are being driven by our personal desires no matter how skewed and distorted and wrong they are. We want what we want!
Would that be so bad if we just got what we wanted? Could that be good for us in the long run. What’s society grow? The sinful human heart can only create distraction. The sinful human heart cannot truly lead to a path that is good. We desperately need the Good Shepherd. And in our world today the floodgates have been opened up and even religious institutions are agreeing with the worldly narrative by saying “go for it.” “Do what’s in your heart!”
Every broken creature, every sinful heart, leads in a path toward distraction and eventual destruction.
“He leads me in the paths of righteousness” (Psalm 23:3)
The contrast to a life committed to insurrection is a life governed, enhanced and guarded by the Good Shepherd, Jesus. This is a life of searching out what is pleasing to Him who rescued us from hell. This is a life that recognizes the pain sin brings directly or indirectly to this world and to the very relationships we hope to build, to our own hearts and minds.
Why does the Good Shepherd lead us with His voice? Because He knows how quickly we would turn from him. He knows that we still possess a broken spirit that daily rises in opposition to Him. That part of us is led and coerced by many voices in our surrounding horizons. Blogs and newscasts are never neutral - they lead down a path.  Sometimes they lead congruent to the truth of God. But often they are askew of God’s right path because they don’t know right; they only know the press of a sick, sin stained world. And how can sinful humans find the right path? We can’t! 
We need the shepherd.
Please pray for our world, our neighborhood, our own Christian brothers and sisters. The days are coming when even believers will find it hard to put up with the Good Shepherd's voice (2 Timothy 4:3). Let’s continually get back to center and listen to His pure, perfect Voice; “He leads me in the paths of righteousness” (Psalm 23:3).

St. John Campus Clean-up

Pastor Moua and our friends from Immanuel Hmong have scheduled to do outside and inside clean-up of the campus on Sunday, 5/15/22.  If anyone wishes to help, work will begin after their service at about 2:00 PM.  Help is always appreciated!