Pastor's Notebook

 

Dear Friends in Christ-

 

Here we are in month three of "Covid normal" times. Our state and many others are beginning to

open up. Some fear seems to be giving way to more hopeful attitudes. My hopeful attitude arises mainly from the Word of God. And I want you all to have sure and certain hope derived from God's word.


I have been reading a lot on all things Covid, and always a question is, "can I trust this?" This

extends to the many news articles, the science articles, opinions, statistics, etc. Who/what to trust? And, why do we trust? A lot of debate is based on quoting one expert and countering with another competing expert. A missionary colleague of mine in Korea took great delight in teasing experts. He started his joke, with a twinkle in his eye, by saying that when you graduate from high school you know a little about a lot of things. Some go to college and get a bachelor's degree where you learn even more about a smaller subject area. Then some go on to get a master's degree where they learn even more about an even smaller subject area. Until, you get a doctor's degree and you know everything there is to know about nothing at all.


It's no joke, I do thank God for those in various vocations that know their fields well, and use

that knowledge for the benefit of others. Yet, all human experts can and do fail us. I know of only One whom I can trust, because He is perfectly trustworthy, and am called to trust: the LORD. So, I want in this article to bring some hope and peace from God's word as we have received it during the past several weeks found in the readings sent to your homes via email in the bulletins, and read/heard in the church services. I have been speaking in the shortened services from the psalm appointed for the week. I start with this one: "Put not your trust in princes...in whom there is no salvation." (Psalm 146:3) We also don't trust in ourselves. Rather, The LORD, the all powerful creator of heaven and earth and who keeps faith forever, acts with all that power and faithfulness for our help and hope.


This is true even, and especially so, when things look so dismal and dark for us. I noted in the

Psalms that those times may even feel like death itself. We call on the LORD, and we are delivered. He preserves us. (Psalm 116). Maybe the most famous, Psalm 23, expresses it best. Yes, even through the valley of the shadow of death, the LORD is with us, and leads us, and always will bring us through. That's why we need not fear! We know to whom we belong and where He leads.

Psalm 47, appointed for the Ascension, I said could be summarized by the word "Joy!" The

Ascended LORD doesn't mean He is farther away from us, but even closer to us! I know, I know, it's hard to conceive, but He says it, "I am with you always!" and we experience it. Such joy is infectious! Not in a bad way, like Covid, which might bring sickness or even death, but the Joy of the LORD brings health and salvation and Life everlasting! I wish the whole earth, all peoples could be so infected with the joy!


"Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!"

Finally, the last psalm I'll mention is Psalm 66. Christianity, and the Bible, keeps things real. Part of the reality of the world and our lives is the brokenness. Again, this psalm lets believers know that such brokenness doesn't feel good. It may cause us to doubt God is in control or that He loves us.

 

Such doubts, my Friends, are used by the devil to turn us from God. To one who comes through the

"testing" of life in this world and knows that God has brought "us out to a place of abundance," that

person, has an opportunity then to testify to others about our great God. I mentioned that in Psalm 66 one person begins to speak from the rest of the congregation. That person speaks about "his story" as it is part of "our story"--the story of our congregation, the story of the church, the story that is the story of God's Love for the World as evidenced by His most awesome of deeds: the death and resurrection of Jesus. "Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul (being/life)."


When I spoke on Psalm 66 I teased a bit about having a time of testimony in our church service.

But such testimony is a way for others to hear "The Story/Our Story" through us. Do not be afraid, dear Friends, of sharing your story with others!


I conclude with strongly encouraging you to read an article titled "Peace and Hope

Found...Remaining in God's Word." It is about a mother's dealing with her child's physical ailment and can be found in the "Lutheran Woman's Quarterly" Summer 2020 magazine (A copy will be saved in the Library, but there are a few on the narthex table.) Here are a few quotes: "A lot of time I was praying through the Psalms,"; "One of the biggest questions I had to wrestle with...was 'How can this be good, Lord?'....I had this moment of incredible peace. 'Lord, I don't know how this could be good, but if it is Your will, it must be.'"; "As soon as we take our eyes out of the Word and try to tackle things on our own, thinking we know what we're doing or we know better than God, that's when disaster happens....It's one of those lessons you have to learn over and over again, because when I think I know better than God, things start to unravel."; "Fear can grip you and overtake you if you lose sight of the Word and you let yourself go down the rabbit hole of worry. It is all-consuming."; My singular focus is sharing with people how great God is. The people who have touched my life tremendously have experienced hardship, too....It was incredible to see people hungry for God in a culture that seems self-sufficient. There is an entire population of people who are absolutely aware of how helpless they are and how much they need God. I want to be able to share my hope with them—certain hope in our Creator, in Jesus."


Testify! "Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul (being/

life)."

 

                                                             Blessings in Jesus, our Ascended and Spirit sending Lord!                                                                                                     Pastor Engler

 

 

 

                                                                                                   


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