Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year

Well, it happened. 2015 has begun. As of this writing, the new year is already 8 hours old. It is time for reflections and resolutions. I talked about that very thing last night during the New Year's Eve sermon. Reflections on 2014 and resolutions for 2015.

Reflecting on 2014, I would have to say first and foremost that I rejoice that I was able to celebrate a 30th wedding anniversary with my lovely wife Penny. It amazed me that it has been 30 years since we said "I do." The time has gone very quickly. As 2014 came to a close, there was no one I would rather have spent the evening with than her. I give thanks to the Lord each day that He gave me a wonderful Christian woman to be my wife. A truly, she is a gift from the Lord.

I also rejoice that I am pastor at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Troy, IL. I thank the Lord for the other congregations that I have served in the years past. They all helped me learn to be the pastor that I am today. I rejoice that I am now pastor at St.Paul's. I give thanks for each of the members. I thank the Lord that I have been called here to bring Word and Sacrament ministry to them. Much took place throughout 2014. We celebrate the gift of faith and life given in the waters of Baptism for 14 infants, 2 young children and 2 adults. What a powerful testimony to the working of the Holy Spirit in the Troy. We celebrated the confirmation of 6 youth and 6 adults. We weekly received the Lord's Supper. We remembered the promise of the resurrection 5 times (funerals in case you wondered what I meant).

More than that, St. Paul's continued to take the message of the Gospel into the Troy community and the surrounding communities as we reached out with the message of the Gospel. We continued to support the mission work through St. Paul's Lutheran School, teaching the children who attend school at St. Paul's the wonder of the Gospel and reaching out to their families with that good news of salvation found only in Jesus Christ.

We cancelled Sunday worship twice in 2014. That is amazing. We cancelled worship on Sunday, Jan. 5th because of the big snowstorm and then again on March 2 because of a snow/ice storm. I know that Alan Kilzer, head elder, and I agonized about what to do with those times of cancellation. It is really hard to call off worship. But the weather was such that it couldn't be helped. We also had to cancel the annual Sausage Supper on March 2. Ken Sipes and I struggled with that one as well. It turns out that the calls made to cancel events were the best decisions. I thank God that He has given me men and women who think with clear heads and consider the many sides of those decisions.

Reflections - there is so much to reflect upon. So many things that took place during 2014. As I reflect back, I rejoice at the wonder of that we call faith. The Holy Spirit continued to strengthen my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He continued to open the Scriptures to me and guided me as I wrote sermon after sermon, Bible study after Bible study and gave guidance to the members of St. Paul's. I give thanks that I am still a child of God despite my sinful nature that fights against that each and every day. I reflect on the spiritual struggles of this past year and rejoice that the Lord that I follow is stronger than those which fight against me (the devil, the world around me and my sinful nature). I also rejoice at the forgiveness of sins that was given me daily as I returned to my Baptism each day. Daily that sinful nature was drowned, daily I was forgiven, daily I was given the love of Christ, daily I was lifted from sin and given the righteousness of Christ Jesus. It doesn't get much better than that.

What else can I say in reflecting back on 2014? I rejoice at the gift of my family. I thank God for Rachael and Matthew, my two children by nature. I give thanks for Brandon, my son by marriage to my daughter. I rejoice that each of them is a part of my life. They brought me much joy through out this year just gone by (and I am sure they will bring much joy in the year to come). They are amazing children of the Lord. I thank the Lord that I have been given the opportunity to guide them in their lives and show them the love of Christ, guiding them to grow in faith, in hope and in love. Rachael and Brandon are carving out a their life here in Troy and Matthew is doing his carving in Seward, NE as he attend Concordia University, Seward. Where will they be at the end of 2015? Only the Lord knows the answer to that. But wherever they go, I know they will have the Lord in their hearts and lives and will be blessed by Him.

Resolutions? I will talk about that tomorrow in another blog. I resolve to be better about blogging, to not let the rush of the days cause me to fail to blog regularly. How is that for a resolution? I know this one thing: only the Holy Spirit can give the power needed to make true changes to my life (and the same can be said for your life). Any time I rely upon myself to make changes in my life, I am going to fail. I will even fail with the Holy Spirit in my life. That just reminds me that I am a sinner that can turn my back on the will of the Lord. It reminds me of why I need a Savior who became human, who suffered and died upon the cross for me and for my sins. I also resolve to...that is for tomorrow.

Happy New Year to you. May the Lord bless your 2015 in ways that you cannot even imagine at this time. In those times of sorrow, loss, pain and suffering, remember the cross of Christ. He came because of those things. He came to save us from from ourselves and our sinfulness. 2015 is in His hands. I pray that your 2015 will be one guided by Him.

Happy 2015 to you.

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