Tuesday, November 30, 2021
Therefore the LORD himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty.
Dear St. Croix Family,
This stunning new mural in front of the school shows that since 1958, St. Croix Lutheran Academy has been committed to Educating The Total Student, aiming to serve as many families as possible. 4,000 students have been blessed with a quality Christ-centered education these last 60+ years!
Would you help this legacy continue?
Saturday, November 27, 2021
Wednesday, November 24, 2021
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
Good and perfect gifts:
Cheerios, warm blankets, sunny November mornings, 50 degree days in late Fall, the ability to take a deep breath, just verdicts, brave citizens, majestic autumn colors, friendly conversations, stormy conversations that close with forgiveness, the ability to stand, that necessary process of communicating with your hands - and they respond appropriately. We have thousands of things for which we can give thanks that include and go beyond food, clothing and shelter.
Thanksgiving is one of the most necessary expressions of the Christian life. It is part of being a disciple of Jesus. Why? In thanksgiving we are making note of many of the good and perfect gifts that are daily given to us by our perfect Heavenly Father because of His perfect Son, Jesus Christ.
Some of us will thank God for bringing us through a difficult year and a half of Covid-related trauma. Others will rejoice that they now enjoy natural immunity. Some will offer thanks for a new direction and enduring friendships. There are new jobs or potential job offers to be celebrated. Let’s show gratitude for that cup of hot cocoa on a cool fall day. Let’s acknowledge that God has gifted us several seasonally warm days of late. Let’s trudge past the stress of today and bask in the warmth of those many gifts from our Father.
Such grateful statements provide us a chance to close off the complaint department of our brain and add “likes” to the comment section of God’s constant feed of goodness. We get an opportunity to come back to a faithful, unchanging Father who dotes on His kids - on us. He’s supporting our daily activity by providing energy, relationships, celebrations, opportunities for growth and much more. He also throws in an abundance of unneeded gifts which could easily become expectations if we didn’t pause and recognize that our sinful state does not earn us any of this goodness. This is the Father’s love being poured out from Heaven.
He showers us with goodness; thanksgiving walks us through the warehouse filled with all that He has provided for us from the moment we were that little person conceived in our mother’s womb. In truth, that very moment we began was a moment for which we can give thanks. God ordained that creative act through the amorous affections of our parents. Thank you for life! Thank you for all the accoutrements of life. Thank you for coloring our food and giving us varied textures and tastes. Thank you for Zinc and its ability to help us taste and smell as well as boost immunity. Thank you for beets and kale, chicken and potatoes, cranberry and turkey, pumpkins for pie and apples for strudel.
Thanksgiving and the articulation of gratitude is an antidote to malaise and suppressive thinking; it boosts your mental well-being. Even the Mayo Clinic recognizes the refuge created by gratitude or thankfulness living: it boosts spirit, increases happiness, and improves overall health.
So how do we approach thanksgiving appropriately? What are we to do?
SAY IT - acknowledge it verbally or journal it
Scriptures encourages prayers of thanksgiving; these can be journaled prayers or verbal prayers. I would greatly, strongly suggest that these prayers move beyond the generic references to clothing, food, shelter, family and friends.
Let’s be specific: “Thank you, Father, for sleeping in this morning. Thank you, Father, for blueberries in my pancakes, for whole grain bread, a leaky faucet which reminds me that I have clean running water. Thank you for three indoor toilets, glass windows that let in the light, my chiropractor, my glasses, The Chronicles of Narnia, Alfred Edersheim (he gives good Jewish insights into the Christian faith), a hard-working church council, comfortable seating, and popcorn.
And encourage others to do the same. This is one of those simple yet profound ways to pass on the faith, to be a disciple of Jesus. Teach your children to do this every day. Share gratefulness with a neighbor and let thankful words fill your conversation. Introduce it into your pillow talk at night so that those you love hear it from you and live out your example.
Blessings to all of you as you relive all that your Loving, Perfect, Heavenly Father has passed onto you.
Tuesday, November 23, 2021
Thursday, November 18, 2021
How much power and control do you have? This is America; we believe in having a voice and our voice brings power, right? We have a vote or a say in who is established for a position in state, local and federal government. We can even encourage our representatives to vote for or against a presidential nominee. What if our words have sway? What if they don’t?
How do we live with confidence if our opinion matters but is not heard? How do we inhabit space on Minnesota soil and raise our family’s with conviction if our opinion is not even considered? Will that crush us? Will that send us into despair? It could. It does not need to.
Daniel chapter 7 presents a situation where Daniel is being prophetically informed about the establishment of crippling, grinding powers. And Daniel has no say in the matter. These are terrifying nations with brutal and unforgiving governments. Daniel is seemingly distraught. The reality is, we all are put into situations which are out of our control. Sometimes it is in politics or medicine. It might be in personal connections to our neighbors or visions of economic peril. The loss of control might wag itself silly as one appointee after another takes the stand at the head of businesses or rises to greater heights of power in government.
Where is our reprieve when times are perilous and events seize our comfort? We claim, as the psalmist says, “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth”(Psalm 124:8). OK, so that is where our help comes from, what is our way forward when we see such things as Daniel did in Daniel 7?
I would first like to take Daniel’s own words from Daniel 2: 20-12. “Daniel answered and said, ‘Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.’” This is a form of exuberant praise; Daniel was just delivered from execution by God’s divine hand. Daniel experienced firsthand how our God is always the final say when it comes to power and control. Our God sets up kings, thrones and judges. Our God takes away the powers of governors, princes and dictators. No one authority can oppose Him. Every force in nature or government or business could rise up against Him but His determinations will stand in the face of all opposition.
Daniel is in awe of this King who is over all kings, presidents, comptrollers, secretaries of state, vp's, and more. Jesus is that KING of Kings. This is where we must start. Daniel lived in very difficult times - many are convinced we will be facing times similar to his. But we must never forget who is the King over all. Jesus is governing the affairs of all nations on earth for the good of the church - His people (us)!
Read Daniel 7 and you will see Daniel expressing anxiety about powerful authorities and governments:
“As for me, Daniel, my spirit within me was anxious, and the visions of my head alarmed me” (Daniel 7:15)
“And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High;his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.’28 “Here is the end of the matter. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly alarmed me, and my color changed, but I kept the matter in my heart” (Daniel 7:27-28).
This portion of Daniel reads a lot like Revelation - it is prophecy. What is the irreducible point that God is making through Daniel? The Most High IS reigning forever. Evil is on a leash and is completely controlled by Him.
Daniel was still worried and alarmed. We might also be worried and alarmed when there are political maneuvers that don’t meet our own bias. That is natural. But like Daniel, our attention must be brought back to Jesus who is the King of Kings, the Most High God. Let your thoughts and emotions rest in that truth.
God bless you all as you rest in the King of Kings; let His peace pervade your thoughts.
Tuesday, November 16, 2021
Karen Hennig (WELS) has been working with the staff at New Day Pregnancy Center leading a Spanish mom's Bible study/ parenting group. She will be conducting her classes in our Multi-purpose room 1 or 2 days per week. The schedule for this class has not yet been determined. She will coordinate times with Pastor Moua when he is not using the room for Immanuel Hmong bible classes.
Christmas decorating is scheduled for Saturday, December 4, at 1:00 PM
Thursday, November 11, 2021
The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang:
“He is good; his love endures forever.”Then the temple of the LORD was filled with the cloud, 14 and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the temple of God.
Immanuel Hmong will celebrate Thanksgiving/Hmong New Year on November 21st. Worship starts at 12:45PM following with dinner in the Fellowship Hall. St. John is invited to join us in celebrating Thanksgiving and Hmong New Year. We will dress in Hmong clothing, worship the Lord, fellowship with plenty of food.
Tuesday, November 9, 2021
The new phone system at St. John has been installed. Very user-friendly. The biggest changes will be not having to dial 9 before placing a call and not having to dial a 1 for long-distance. You can check with the church office if you have any questions.
Dress yourself with…Gentleness
St. Paul encouraged the members of one of his churches, “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near” (Philippians 4:5).
Soaps can irritate the skin. Bears can maul people. And just turn on the news to see what destruction human beings can do.
Of course, we will never be able to be perfectly gentle in this life. But, Jesus was. With a word, Jesus could calm a raging sea or cause a tree to wither. Yet he never failed to heal the sick, preach good news to the poor, and offer forgiveness to the worst of sinners.
Worship Services: Sunday at 8:30 AM
Adult Bible Study: 9:45 AM
Visit our website at stjohnev.net
Call us at 651-771-6406
Saturday, November 6, 2021
Thursday, November 4, 2021
Sitting in the courtroom of the local judiciary, there was a tenseness as each individual stood before the judge. Most people appearing before the judge were purposely respectful. The judge was obviously in full control. The judge wielded some substantial clout; he had an air of authority which was demonstrated by each drop of the gavel. This authority caused each defendant to cower.
There was one person who came in that day who was clearly afraid of what could happen in the next minutes as they stood before the judge. This person looked very nervous but wanted to appear calm and even cocky. After every comment from the judge, this person would turn around and make silly faces to the others in the courtroom. He looked like a fool because the judge was verbally and physically in control. Then came the sentence and the witty commentary from the judge. I don’t remember the exact words but it was comical to see this person crumble under the weight of the judge’s power and righteous decree. The rest of us watching the situation sided with the judge. He was right; this young person was trying to defy authority and the judge clearly put him in his place.
I wonder about that scene when I think about our text for this weekend. It is the imagery of a courtroom and impending judgment.
“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. 3 And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 4:1-3)
The day that is coming is a day of judgment where all arrogance and evil will be judged - it is THE JUDGMENT DAY. It will be a day of fire (symbol of judgment) and heat that will devour anything that is remotely tainted with evil and arrogance. This pronouncement is made by the Lord of Hosts. “The Lord of Hosts” is a term which refers to God and his army of heavenly soldiers. There has never been a more powerful army on this earth. If we had even a split second to view their eminence and power, it would cause the strongest among us to fear.
Now some may laugh at this power because they have never experienced standing in the presence of such a powerful judge - The Eternal Judge. Some may even try to shrug their shoulders at this judgment. But no one will escape this day.
But God, in his grace and mercy, always has a way out. “But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. 3 And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the Lord of hosts.” (Malachi 4:2-3) God is always looking for a way to save humanity. One by one He brings them to the point of awe, wonder and fear of his power. It comes to us by grace. In grace he offers another way out. That way out is “fear my name.” To fear the name of the Lord of hosts is to recognize the power that He does wield. It means to recognize that this judgment will take place, that He must do this as a perfect judge and that He personally provides a way out of this judgment through the punishment that gets placed on His son.
How does He promise that? It is in the phrase, “the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings.” There is healing power that will erase the judgment that is impending. The healing power comes from the “wings” of the sun of righteousness. All of this sounds fractured and vague until we see the connection between the sun of righteousness and Jesus. Jesus is the bright and powerful Son of God who glowed white like the sun on the mount of transfiguration. Jesus is righteousness personified. Everything He does is true and right and perfect. And He offers that protective righteousness to everyone who fears His name. This sounds like a good deal.
In fact, this is such a good deal for those who take advantage of it that it will cause them to leap and dance in relief. Have you ever feared the worst outcome of a situation and then found out you were free? I remember hearing about a hospital bill that was in the 200K range for a family in our congregation. When they found out, they knew it was real. They knew it was worth the money because it involved a loved one. But they knew that they could never pay it. As the hospital administration was delivering this sober financial outlook, they went one step further by finding a way to pay the bill themselves. They ate the cost of this tremendous procedure. The relief caused some dancing in the hearts of the family. This is what Jesus did for us; He “ate the cost” of our broken, sinful existence and we go free.
Believers, it is time to dance. We can look to the future and know that judgment is taking place. But we also know that Judgment has already taken place for us when Jesus spread out His wings, suffered and died in order to shelter and protect us. THat is available to all who take Him seriously.
So let’s be somber and serious when we think about the judgment we deserve but it is definitely in good order for us to jump and celebrate the relief Jesus has won for us. “You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.” (Malachi 4:2) Let’s celebrate the fact that our judgment has been already embraced by Jesus so that we are relieved and forgiven. Blessings to all of you.