Sunday, May 31, 2020

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Worship to resume on June 7

To give us adequate time to plan and communicate the council has decided to resume worship on Sunday, June 7 at 11:00 AM.    We will take many precautions to make it as safe as possible.  Please watch for further details in the days to come.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Question and Answer

Members of St John,

During the last 2 months, with the Covid-19 “Stay at Home” order that Gov. Walz has issued, there has been a lot of anxiety by our members.  There is one thing that we can be SURE of.  Our Heavenly Father is there for us and we can come to Him in prayer for assurance.  He is watching over us and will bring this outbreak to an end while strengthening our faith in Him.  We are not like unbelievers who have no hope.  He is with us now and forever.
With less contact from our church leadership, I know that you have some questions and I will try to address them here.  Feel free to contact Pastor Berg, Jan Tholl, our council members, or Tony Wimmer at 612-306-5329 if there is anything else you would like to discuss.

Question: When will we start worshipping together again?
Answer: Right now the Governor has limited gatherings to 10 people.  When he allows us to meet for church services, we will let you know.

Q: Are there ways to receive the Word and Sacrament?
A: Pastor Berg has recorded 37 daily devotions which are available on Divinity’s Youtube page and our Facebook page.  He is taking a break from that to focus on other parts of our ministry but you can still view the devotions already recorded.  Every week a worship service is recorded and uploaded to Youtube and Facebook as well.  We are planning to mail out DVDs to our members who do not have internet access.
A: We have started offering Holy Communion on Wednesdays prior to the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month from 3:00-7:00.  There is a sign-up for families with 15-minute increments.  The next available day is May 27.  Contact Pastor Berg or myself if you need assistance with this.
A: There is a weekly Adult Bible Study on Wednesdays at 7:00 PM.  Contact Pastor Berg or myself to get signed up and for more information.

Q: When will we be calling a pastor?
A: Before we are ready to call a pastor, we need to finish going through the next phase of our Crossroads Consulting program.  The next step will be to schedule the listening sessions.  In these listening sessions, we will try to answer these questions:  1) Are we ready to call a pastor now and commit to changes in our outreach efforts?  2) Should we work towards combining with another congregation?  3) Should we move to another location? 4) Should we close and transfer our members to other WELS congregations?  Derek will be working with our Guiding Coalition members to get these scheduled

Q: How are the mail in offerings going and what is our financial status?
A: Some of our members have been mailing their offerings to St John.  We ask that everyone do this.  At this time we are meeting our expenses, but our offerings have fallen in the last 2 months.

Q: What are the hours and duties of our church office secretary now?
A: Jan has been working a flexible schedule now.  She comes in 2-3 days per week and also when needed to send out blogs, mailings, and other duties. She has been able to answer texts, emails, and voicemails from home.  She also coordinates the mowing schedule.  We are paying her the same as before.

Q: Is our custodian working/getting paid?
A: Our custodian is still emptying trash, cleaning bathrooms, adding towels and TP where needed, and spot cleaning floors when needed.  His hours have been shortened.

Q: What recent repairs have we made?
A: Completed repair and update of our outdoor and bus garage lighting.  Completed boiler repairs (water tubes).

Q: Are we renting or plan to rent our school building?
A: There are no plans for renting the school building at this time.  CLUES has rented some space in the field for a community garden.  They are paying $500 per month for this space.

Q: Are our leaders meeting together at this time?
A: The council has not met since March.  We are using emails for the items that we need to discuss.  Since the Governor has relaxed his stay at home policy, we are planning to have a council meeting on May 26.

Q: Will we be holding basketball and soccer camps this year?
A: Both basketball and soccer camps have been cancelled this year

Q: Are we planning to canvass our neighborhood this year?
A: We are planning to delay the start of our canvassing until later this summer.

Q. Are the home bounds getting visits?
A:  There are no Home Bound visits as the facilities are not allowing any visitors. They are getting their weekly church mailing.  They enjoy that very much.

Q: Is there anything I can be doing for my church right now?
A: Even though we have not been using our facility, there are still many things that you can do.  General cleaning inside (mopping floors, dusting, window washing).  Outdoor things to do (mowing, weeding, pick up trash, window washing). Let Mike Tholl know when you have completed any of these projects.  There is a mowing schedule in the Link or you can talk to Jan.

May God bless you all, Tony Wimmer 612-306-5329

Sunday, May 24, 2020

You can watch today's worship service here.

You can also watch a special Bible study here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Good Newsletter!

May 2020

What More Could We Want?
This year in our monthly articles we are considering favorite verses from the Bible.
This month’s favorite Bible verse is: 
Psalm 23:1
“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.”

John D. Rockefeller was one of the richest men in the world. An interviewer once asked him, “How much money is enough?” Rockefeller replied, “Just a little bit more.”

How many times have we told ourselves that if we had “just a little bit more” we would be happy? A higher-paying job. A larger home. An earlier retirement. Better health. Successful children.

But what happens when those wants are met? Are people truly happy? And what happens when those wants aren’t met? When you find yourself unemployed. When in rough times your savings are depleted. When plans for better housing or earlier retirement have to be put on hold. When your health takes a turn for the worse or your children struggle in school. Where do you turn? Turn to Jesus and remember, “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.”

We might not have everything we want in life, but Jesus, our Good Shepherd, has truly given us everything we need. He’s given us his word. He’s given us his promises. He assures us that our sins are forgiven and eternal life in heaven is ours through his death and resurrection.

He promises to provide for all of our physical and spiritual needs richly and abundantly here on earth until he takes us to the glorious home that he has prepared for us in heaven. There we will experience the fulfillment of his promise, “You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11).

Not long after his death, someone came up to the accountant of John D. Rockefeller and said, “We know Rockefeller was a very wealthy man. How much did he leave?” Without a moment’s hesitation, the accountant answered, “Everything!” A man who seemed to have it all was forced to leave it all behind in the end. The only things that will go with us from this life to the next are the spiritual treasures that belong to us through faith in Jesus.
What do we want out of life? What we need the most has already been fully and freely supplied by Jesus, our Good Shepherd. So, what more could we want? What more could we need?
What a reason to celebrate!

Upcoming Events at St. John:
Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, we have temporarily suspended our worship services. We pray that God will keep us all safe from sickness during this outbreak and calm our fears.  You are in our prayers.
To watch our online services visit our Facebook page at St. John Lutheran church or visit our website at
For more information or to unsubscribe go to or call us at 651-771-6406

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

note from your elder and prayer

Today Christ Beguhl undergoes open heart surgery.  Please keep him in your prayers.

“We live in uncertain times.”

No doubt you’ve heard that said more than once in recent weeks. But are times ever certain? Are there times that we know exactly what tomorrow will bring – with absolute certainty? James 4:14 plainly tells us, “You do not know what tomorrow will bring.” We may have our doubts; we may have confidence in what tomorrow will bring. But, in the final analysis, James is spot on.
What have we observed? What lessons have been driven home as we experience this phenomenal pandemic? It is common for we Americans to look to the government to find the solution to the problem. But we are hearing more and more criticisms of how the government is handling the crisis. The government is not God. We look to science to come up with the medical weapons to end the threat. Science is not God. The god of sports has taken quite a blow on all levels; we can’t even turn to it for diversion or even for the health benefits it might offer. The god of money and financial security isn’t batting 1000 either. We live in uncertain times.
We live in very certain times. Though all the afore-mentioned “gods” have proven unreliable, there is a God – our God – who does not change. Again, we can turn to James (1:17): “Every good act of giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the lights, who does not change or shift like a shadow.” He is the One who identified himself to Moses as “I AM” – the God that does not change, who lives in the eternal present, who is steadfast in love, who says, “I the LORD do not change.” [Malachi 3:6]
Our God is like a loving parent who consistently disciplines his children in wisdom and love. And that is what he has been doing to with us right up to the present. Is he getting our attention better than he has in the past? Is he saying to us as he said through Malachi, “Return to me and I will return to you”? [Malachi 3:7]
There are many distractions in life. The distractions that take us away from time with God in prayer, in the Scriptures, in worship. This is true of everyone of us without exception.
God in his inscrutable wisdom has deprived us of the privilege of gathering as a congregation. How will we respond? Will the response be, “Hey this easy-chair church isn’t half bad; I can worship in my jammies with a cup of coffee and at a time suitable to me.” Or are we growing to miss corporate worship and in greater appreciation of the privilege it is and the benefit it brings to join together as God enjoins us in Hebrews 10:25: “Let us not neglect meeting together, as some have the habit of doing. Rather, let us encourage each other, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Our good and gracious Lord Jesus intends this experience to be a blessing for us. It will be a blessing if we view each day in the light of his Word, and in patient endurance focus our eyes on Him.
May the God of all peace keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Thomas Koepsell - elder

Thursday, May 14, 2020

News From Cindy Lendt!

Things are a lot different than when I first came to China. Most of the Shanghai team is in the US right now, and just two of us - Linden and I -  have been doing the mission work here for the past 4 months. We're both teaching online, and we've got two Bible studies going each week. It's going well, but could you pray for us? With summer coming up and the coronavirus going on, I don't even know where I'll be spending the summer.

I miss all of you at St. John very much! This is a secure email that you can contact me with, so feel free to say whatever you want!  (

God bless you very much!

Please see the link below for pictures that Cindy would like to share with us.

May 14 devotion

You can watch today's devotion here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

May 13 devotion

You can watch today's devotion here.

The Hidden Good in Joseph’s Life
Genesis 45:4-5
Pastor John C. Berg

He said, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into Egypt.  Now do not be upset or angry with yourselves for selling me to this place, since God sent me ahead of you to preserve life.”
This is your daily devotion for May 13th.   Yesterday we started a new series of devotions which I’m calling “The Hidden Good.”  Every day we look at a person in the Bible whose life illustrates the truth that God works good for us even through bad times.    Perhaps the classic example of this is Joseph, one of the sons of Jacob.  Joseph had many brothers, including half brothers.  Unfortunately Jacob had two wives. He favored one wife over the other, and favored her sons over their brothers.  Predictably, his half brothers were jealous of him and how he was treated.  Their jealousy culminated in an infamous incident in which they threw Joseph into a cistern and then sold him to a slave trader.  They then told their father that Joseph had been killed by wild animals.
This was just the beginning of Joseph’s troubles.  He was taken to Egypt and sold as a slave in the house of Potiphar.  Things went well until Potiphar’s wife accused him of trying to force himself on her.  Potiphar then threw Joseph into prison.  It’s probably save to imagine that an Egyptian prison 4,000 years ago was a horrific place.  While in prison the Pharaoh learned that God had given Joseph the ability to interpret dreams. 
To make a long story short, Joseph was made the second most powerful man in Egypt because he was able to tell the Pharaoh that his dreams meant they would have seven years of good harvest followed by seven years of famine.  Under Joseph’s direction Egypt wisely saved up grain during the good years.  People came from all over during the famine to get food in Egypt. 
Even Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt where Joseph said to them, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into Egypt.  Now do not be upset or angry with yourselves for selling me to this place, since God sent me ahead of you to preserve life.”   Even Joseph could see how God had worked through his suffering to bless him and many others.  Genesis 45:15 says “He kissed all his brothers and wept over them.  After that his brothers talked with him.  When Joseph was in prison I would imagine it was really difficult for him to think of a scenario in which his relationship with his brothers could be healed. But God accomplished it.
God may not use the suffering in your life to save the lives of thousands of people, but it’s probably more likely that you have some relationship problems like Joseph did.  Through this pandemic God may be giving you an opportunity.  Is there someone who you used be close to and would like to be again but you don’t know how?  Something happened, there has been resentment and no communication for years?  It’s hard to know how to make the first move in fixing something like that.  It can seem really strange to call someone out of the blue.  But it seems less strange right now, doesn’t it?  The most important things seem even more important now.  Reaching out to check on someone doesn’t seem as out of place.  Is God giving you an opportunity to talk to someone and say, “I’m sorry.  I love you and I want us to have the relationship we used”?  Perhaps.  Keep your eyes open for the Hidden Good!  Amen.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

May 12 devotion

You can watch today's devotion, the first in a new series, here.

The Hidden Good
Romans 8:28
Pastor John C. Berg

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
This is your daily devotion for May 12th.  Today we begin a new series based on and inspired by Romans 8:28.  This is one of my favorite passages in Scripture.  It can provide comfort in ALL situations because of that little word, “all.”  Imagine how different it would be if it said, “in some things God works for the good of those who love him.”  Then we would apply it to happy events like worship and family time.  But you wouldn’t think of Romans 8:28 when you were furloughed from your job and I probably wouldn’t find comforting it when my child is sick. 
Because of that little word “all” we know that even during suffering, tragedy and every-day drudgery God is working for our good.  Sometimes we may even notice it as it’s happening, but most often we don’t see how God does this until much later, if ever.   It is easy to see the negative.  Social scientists call it the negativity bias.  We are much more likely to let the bad affect our mood than the good.  When you have your performance review at work the one or two negative comments stick with you a lot longer don’t they?  Those who study this say that, in general, it takes four or five good things to balance out how we are affected by one bad thing.  They also say this is a product of evolution.  Being worried about a lion eating you was more important than being happy about the food you just ate.  There’s a better explanation isn’t there?  Sin.  Our sinful natures are incredibly negative.
We need help seeing the Hidden Good.  Every day we will look at an example in the Bible of someone going through hardship and how God used that for their good and/or the good of others.  Hopefully this will help us see God doing the same with us.  Today let’s talk about the most obvious and most important time this happened. 
It's hard to imagine that any of the people who loved Jesus saw any good at his trial before Pilate.   Were John and Mary aware of anything but horror as Jesus hung on the cross?  We call it Good Friday, but it seems likely the people who experienced it didn’t see any good at all.  And yet their very redemption was being accomplished.  Jesus was paying the price for all of us to be forgiven.  It was the greatest good in history, but to the people who were there it was a Hidden Good.  Keep your eyes of faith open and look for the hidden good in your life.  Amen.

Memorial Day Service Cancellation


Monday, May 11, 2020

Updates From St. Croix Lutheran!

SCLA Gala Rescheduled to September
Spend an evening in France and enjoy complimentary valet parking, drinks and hors d’oeuvres during the silent auction, and a three-course dinner Thursday, September 17, at the Bloomington Hilton. The tickets are $100. Register at

Job Openings
SCLA is now seeking a full-time Assistant Mission Advancement Director and a part-time Dorm Student Advisor. Visit for a complete listing of job openings and apply online.

SCLA Fine Arts Addition Construction Has Begun!
Construction for the SCLA fine arts addition has begun and is well underway. Thank you to the many supporters who helped launch this project! The school moves Forward in Faith, despite current challenges caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Summer Academic and Sports Camps - Still On!
Registration is still open for SCLA’s summer academic and sports camps for students entering grades K-9. There is a good chance that June camps will be rescheduled, but SCLA hopes to continue offering camps this summer. Find out more and register at

School Updates during COVID-19
For a full list of SCLA updates and FAQs, visit

May 11 devotion

You can watch today's devotion here.

It was brought to my attention that people were only able to sign up for communion in half hour increments.  That was a mistake.  I fixed it so you can now sign up in 15 minute increments, which doubles how many slots are available.  I apologize for the error.  You can sign up here.

The Christian Family…Children Are The Gifts That Last
Psalm 127:3
Pastor John C. Berg

Indeed, children are a heritage from the LORD.  The fruit of the womb is a reward from him.
This is your daily devotion for May 11th.  We continue our series on the Christian family.  Yesterday was Mother’s Day.  A lot of you moms probably received some gifts like my wife did.  Flowers and plants are a great Mother’s Day gift because it’s spring.  They’re an expression of love for our mothers.
I think most moms didn’t spend yesterday thinking about themselves and how awesome they are for the sacrifices they make for their children.  No, they thought about their children and grandchildren.  The flowers and bushes they received yesterday will all die, some in just a few months.  The greatest physical gift they ever received was their children.  Psalm 127 says “Indeed, children are a heritage from the LORD.  The fruit of the womb is a reward from him.” 
Not all of us receive this particular gift, but those of us who do marvel at the fact that our children are the one physical blessing we can also enjoy in heaven.  That’s what really matters to a Christian mother or father.  We of course want physical health, happiness and success for our kids.  But more than anything we want them to be in heaven with us someday.  How wonderful it will be the first time we see our children physically embraced by Jesus!  
Are you worried about your child’s relationship with Jesus now that she can’t be in church, Sunday School or Christian Day School?  While that presents challenges it also presents opportunities.  You have a bigger impact on your child’s faith than I or any teacher ever will.  Your children may be spending more time with you at home than at any time since infancy.  Let them see how important God and his Word are to you.  Have them watch these devotions with you.  At the very least let them see you watching them.  Sit down with them on Sunday to watch worship.  Try to make it a regular time so they see it as a priority.  Read a children’s Bible to them, pray with them, sing a hymn.
Also…relax and trust their Heavenly Father.  Your children’s entrance into heaven does not depend on you.  It depends on Jesus.  He redeemed them and loves them fiercely.  Put their souls and eternity in his hands and enjoy them as great gifts from God. 

We pray: Dear Jesus, you said, Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  Lord, we brought them to you in baptism.  We bring them to you now in prayer.  Help us to bring them to you in family worship.  Amen.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

May 10 worship

You can watch today's worship service here.

You could also watch it and download the bulletin here.

Friday, May 8, 2020

May 8 devotion & communion distribution update

You can watch today's devotion here.

People are signing up for communion, which is great.   Please only sign up for one session a month for now, to make sure everyone gets a chance!  You can do so here.

The Christian Family…Mothers Who Comfort
Isaiah 66:13
Pastor John C. Berg

But if anyone does not provide for his own family, and especially for his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
This is your daily devotion for May 8th.  You probably won’t have to think too hard about who I’m going to talk about today during this series on the Christian family.  We’re a couple days from Mother’s Day.  Mothers are a great comfort to us.  For many of us the first person think when it comes to being comforted is our mother. 
There’s an analogy I use to help people understand what it means to believe in God.  When I teach about baptism, unfortunately we have to discuss this idea among some Christians that babies can’t really believe in God, at least not in the way that adults do because coming to faith is a decision you make.  You must choose Christ.  A baby can’t do that, they say.  The analogy I use is this: a baby can’t tell you who his mother is or how he feels about her.  But if a baby is upset and no one can comfort him, who is the one person most likely to be able to?  Mom.  And the baby can’t say “I trust my mother.  I know she loves me.  And yet he does.  Clearly babies trust their mothers and are comforted by them.    That’s such universal truth that the prophet Isaiah uses that to help us understand how God loves and comforts us.  Isaiah 66:13 But if anyone does not provide for his own family, and especially for his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
One of the great blessings we have is our mothers.  They comforted us in our youth and they still comfort us.  Unfortunately, many of us will not be able to actually spend this Mother’s Day with our mothers as we are used to.  But there are still many ways that you can reach out to your mom and give her some comfort.  She’s quite likely worried about you and her grandchildren.  Let her know that you’re thinking of her and love her.  Give her the comfort of God’s Word that even though she can’t be there for all her children and grandchildren God is taking care of us and comforting us. 
We pray: Dear Jesus, thank you for blessing us with mothers who comfort us and care for us, who taught us to know you.  Please keep our mother’s safe and bless them on this Mother’s Day.  Amen.

New Beginnings-A Home for Mothers

New Beginnings-A Home for Mothers is a ministry sponsored by Christian Life Resources. During the month of May, they do a lot of their fundraising but because of COVID-19, they have had to make some adjustments to their routine. They need our help!

Here is a list of needs they have:
           Gift Cards (Walmart, Target)
           Monetary Donations
           Unopened packages of diapers, baby wipes, size 3-5
           Baby clothes: Boys sizes 3-24 months, Girls sizes 3-6               months
           Hand soap
Complete list: (You can also donate online)

Mailing Address: Box 56
                 Richfield, WI 53076

Mail Large Packages to:           
                 9215 W. Wisconsin Ave.
                 Milwaukee, WI 53226

Thursday, May 7, 2020

May 7 devotion

You can watch today's devotion here.

The Christian Family…Care for Each Other
1 Timothy 5:8
Pastor John C. Berg

But if anyone does not provide for his own family, and especially for his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
This is your daily devotion for May 7th.  We started a new series this week on the Christian family.  We’ve discussed fathers, husbands and wives, and grandparents.  Today we’re not going to talk about specific members of families but rather on the responsibilities and blessings of being in a family.  From 1 Timothy 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his own family, and especially for his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Our understanding and application of providing for family has changed in the last month and a half.  How do you care for elderly grandparents when you can’t or shouldn’t be in physical contact with them?  What about the college student who is graduating into the worst economy in a long time or those college students who returned home weeks ago already?  These are responsibilities that can cause us some stress.  What should you do for your adult children who lost their jobs in this terrible economy?  How we care for each other is probably going to change over the coming months. 
We experienced the blessing and the responsibly of this in our own family.  You’ve heard me talk before about how our daughter Madison, seven weeks ago, came down ill with all the top symptoms of COVID-19.  Let me show you how God blessed us in this time:  She’s an adult but we were able to provide her with a place to quarantine for well over a month.  It didn’t really cause us any financial hardship and she didn’t fall into poverty, like she might have if she didn’t have family to help her.  What a blessing that is!  And it’s a blessing most of us have—that family safety net.  If things get really bad you can always move back home, or some version of that.
We do need to remember that there are people who don’t have that.  That’s why God calls upon us to be generous and charitable even with those who aren’t members of our family.  They might not have the same family safety net that most of us do.  It is of course a tremendous blessing that most of us have families to help.  It’s a responsibility to care for our families, but one we are happy to do, and one that pleases God.
We pray, Dear Father thank you for blessing us with families who care and provide for us.  Help us to do the same.  Give us the resources to also help those who are not in our family and desperately need help.  Amen.

Holy Communion Distribution

Pastor Berg will be distributing Holy Communion at St. John on Wednesday, May 13, and Wednesday, May 27, from 3:00 PM-7:00 PM.  One family (or individual) at a time will come into church to receive communion.  Each family will have ten minutes.   Please enter through the main church doors and exit through the link door.

You can register for a time here.     It's really easy to use and saves me time.  If you have a problem with that you can call me on my cell phone to schedule a time.  651-448-0770

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Immanuel Hmong

FYI - Immanuel Hmong live streams their worship service every Sunday from 12:30 until 2:00 pm.

May 5 devotion

You can watch today's devotion here.

We Need Your Help!

St. John needs your help this spring and summer.
If you are able to help with mowing the lawns at St. John it would be greatly appreciated.
Because of the shut down right now it's hard to put out a schedule. What we are asking,
if you are able to take a week or two, beginning the week of May 9th, you can
call the church office at 651-771-6406, and please use the secretary prompt to leave a
message. If you have a week that you would like to mow leave that in your message as well.
The schedule will always begin on Sunday's and you can mow anytime during that week.
If you have never mowed at church and you have questions, you can reach the Head Trustee, 
Mike Tholl, at, or his cell phone 651-276-1369.
We hope that the stay at home order will end very soon. God's blessings. 

Monday, May 4, 2020

May 4 devotion

You can watch today's devotion here.

The Christian Family…Fathers
Luke 15:20
Pastor John C. Berg

“He got up and went to this father.  While he was still far away, his father saw him and was filled with compassion.  He ran, hugged his son and kissed him.
This is your daily devotion for May 4th.  Let me tell you a story.  Some of you will recognize this immediately, others maybe not.  It’s one of the best stories from the Bible, a story told by Jesus.  A young men selfishly asked his Father for his inheritance.  He left home and wasted the money on, well if this happened today, we would say “sex and drugs.”  When he found himself starving to death he returned home to apologize to his father and ask for forgiveness.  Jesus said, While he was still far away, his father saw him and was filled with compassion.  He ran, hugged his son and kissed him.
It's not what he deserved.  At the very least this prodigal son had earned a tongue lashing and a probationary period to prove that he deserved to once again be part of the family.  And that’s what makes this perhaps the Bible’s greatest story of grace and a best loved picture of who God is.  It’s also something else.
We spent two weeks thanking God for the blessings we may sometimes overlook.  There are other blessings that we tend to notice and be thankful for more often.  Family is one of them.  Many of us are getting to spend more time with immediate family and less time with extended family.  Today we begin a new series of devotions on the Christian family. 
The parable of the prodigal son is also the Bible’s most striking picture of fatherhood.  Jesus says the father saw his rebellious son while he was still a long far away.  How could that possibly be?  What are the chance that this father just happened to be looking in the right direction at just the right moment?  Virtually zero.  Which means he was doing this all the time, looking at the horizon hoping to see his son so he could and kiss him.  So he could not mention his son’s sinful actions at all, but welcome him home with a party.
Fathers, we often find our identity in being the providers for our families.  We take seriously the duty of being the disciplinarian so that we don’t raised spoiled, entitled kids.  Those are important roles for us.  But there is another much more important role we see in Jesus’ parable.  It’s the role of grace giver.  Our children should see us men of grace and forgiveness.  It’s not spoiling a child to respond with hugs and encouragement when he sins, especially if he already has tears in his eyes.  He knows he sinned.  He needs grace.  And when we provide that to our children we’re helping them to also see their Heavenly Father in the same gracious light.
I know men.  I know that all too often you have yelled at your children and seen fear in their eyes.  I feel the same guilt and shame.  Remember that God is your gracious Father too.  Run to him.  He will welcome with open arms of forgiveness.  Amen. 
I highly recommend the book “Being Dad: Father as a Picture of God’s Grace” by Scott Keith.

Friday, May 1, 2020

May 1 devotion

You can watch today's devotion here.

Overlooked blessings…public worship
Psalm 122:1
Pastor John C. Berg

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
This is your daily devotion for May 1st.  Kind of like yesterday, today’s overlooked blessing is one that, because of our present crisis, you may not be overlooking like perhaps you did in the past.  The overlook blessing is public worship, a blessing that unfortunately we can’t enjoy right now.  So many positive things come about in public worship.  The most important is that when you are at public worship you are hearing the Word.  Some Sundays you are receiving the Sacrament.  Those are the means by which the Lord strengthens faith and gives forgiveness of sins.
There’s also the incredible benefit of being with each other.  And I’m just talking about how we are social creatures and we like to be around each other.  That is important, but we are also here encouraging each other.  There is spiritual benefit to assembling with fellow Christians.  That’s why it's a command from God.  It’s good for us!
So why would I bring up a blessing we can’t currently enjoy?  For a few reasons.  #1 Don’t get used to this.  I will confess that I think quite often about my people, the members of Divinity and St. John are going to get used to this not coming to church.  I worry that once we are able to come together again some of you may not come back because you’ve gotten used to this.  Don’t let the Devil use this time to plant false ideas in your head like; “well Pastor gives us daily devotions and we can watch church online…that’s good enough.”   It’s not good enough.  What I’m giving you is not enough.  You need more.  I need more.
In Hebrews 10 it says, “Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the day approaching.”  I’m not making a political statement.  I’m not saying shelter-in-place orders are wrong or that they should end now.  I’m just saying, don’t get used to this.  Don’t lose that feeling you had, especially the first few weeks, “boy I miss church.”  Because it’s been a while now.  I am afraid of us getting used to this.  This is now my 28th daily devotion.  We haven’t worshipped together since March 15th.  That’s long time and our governor has now extended the shelter in place orders for a couple weeks.  Don’t get used to it, friends.  When our doors open again, come running back.
But there are a couple other reasons I want to talk about this today.  #2 I do think not being able to worship together isn’t going to last a whole lot longer.  My personal, gut feeling,  is that within a few weeks we will be again gathering for public worship.  It might be on a smaller scale with more services, but it will be better than what we can do right now.  Look forward to that!  It will happen at some point.
#3  We are going to start offering you another way to receive the Lord’s Supper.  I’m sure that is one of things you miss most about public worship.  Pay attention to your email for details.  We will also communicate with you in other ways.
Psalm 122:1 I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”  We will be rejoicing together someday soon.  Don’t lost that desire, than anticipated joy of gathering together for public worship.  Let’s pray:  Heavenly Father, it weighs heavy on our hearts that it has been so long since we have gathered together to worship you.  Please preserve and strengthen our faith.  Lord, please make it possible for us to worship together soon. Amen.