WEEKLY DEVOTION JULY 14
Tuesday, July 14, 2020
Pastor Bruce Kischnick, Grace Lutheran Church, New Albany, IN
“The Verse for Bob”
READING: Psalm 26:6-8 – I wash my hands in innocence, and go about thy altar, O Lord, singing aloud a song of thanksgiving, and telling all thy wondrous deeds. O Lord, I love the habitation of thy house, and the place where your glory dwells.
We buried Dad last Monday. He died peacefully in his sleep early on July 1st, 90 years, 11 months, and 18 days of age. That was after a busy day of telephone calls, orders for shrimp scampi for supper, and a game or two of Euchre! He was ready for the Lord’s call, and he had asked all of us to pray for just that summons. The last month was very difficult for him, and all of us can just give thanks for his release. We cannot say, “We lost our dad,” because we know just where he is, thanks be to Jesus!
At the funeral, Pastor Wes Gillaspie read the Old Testament lesson which is our text for today. It was Dad’s confirmation verse in 1942. As he read it, I took a pen out of my shirt pocket and underlined this portion, “I love the habitation of thy house…” I thought immediately that it reflected Dad’s attitude about worship for all the years I knew him. He seldom missed church on Sunday. Even as the years made it more difficult for him to take that long walk down the aisle at St. Michael’s, Richville, he was there. The Sunday after Mom, the love of his life, had died, Dad was there. Even when the walk required a walker, he was there. And, finally, when it took an Amigo electric wheelchair to make his way down front, he was there.
Pastor Gillaspie began his sermon by saying that in 32 years of ministry he had heard many excuses for missing worship, then he recited a number of them. Then he said, “I never heard any of those excuses from Bob,” and I began to cry. Yup! Pastor knew my dad well. I thanked him after the committal for thinking on the same wavelength as me. That verse fit Dad’s joy of worship so very well. It was where he wanted to be, needed to be, and aimed to be if at all possible.
Then Pastor Gillaspie surprised me by revealing again how well he knew Dad – he referred to verse 7, which reads, “…singing aloud a song of thanksgiving.” He said, “Bob loved to sing…loudly!” We all laughed because he did! Dad was a good singer, and he loved to belt out those hymns and the liturgy. Some of my favorite memories from childhood to my adulthood and right up into my grandparenthood were the times I sat next to Dad in church and we belted out those hymns together. Dad bequeathed to me a love for the Lord’s house, for the liturgies and hymnody of the Church, and the simple desire to trust and love the Lord for all the gifts He has given me. That’s part of Dad’s legacy, and every one of his children and his grandchildren know and love the Lord as well. That didn’t happen by accident. Dad led us to that grand House!
How about you? Is your love for the “habitation” of God’s house a strong and urgent desire within you, or something you sort of take for granted? Do you go often to his house, or now and again when it suits you? Do you children and grandchildren see its importance in your life, or are they learning that worship is something optional? These are things to ponder. The results of your habits may not be immediately clear, but eyes are watching you. Your legacy may not play itself out in your lifetime, but it may have its effect later in the lives of your family and even your friends. Singing loudly is not a requirement, but your constancy and faithfulness in worship are your very clear witness to the world about where your heart lies. If He is really your Father, you’ll want to be in his presence in his house often.
Dad was “just” a farmer. He had an eighth-grade education (He took eighth grade twice, but that’s a story for another time!) and became an Army medic in Korea at Uncle Sam’s behest. He raised five children who loved and respected him. He had 10 grandchildren who thought he hung the moon. And, his wife of 64 years seldom had cause to chastise him. He was a jack-of-all-trades, a problem solver, a self-starter and a hard worker. But, best of all, he “loved the habitation of (the Lord’s) house,” and now sees face-to-face the “place where (God’s) glory dwells.” And, I bet he’s singing those songs with the heavenly choir…loudly!
ANNOUNCEMENT(S): I want to personally thank all of you for your prayers, kindness, love, and cards during this difficult time in my life and the life of my family. For those who made Memorial gifts to Grace or St. Michael’s, again, thank you. Some of you had the chance to meet my Old Man when he and Mom were still able to visit us. He told me more than once how blessed I was to be pastor of such a great bunch of people. I always agreed with him, and never more than at a time when I need your comfort and your support. Thank you, and God bless you all. Yesterday would have been Dad’s 91st birthday, but he had already counted it done. He said, “I did the math. I already existed 91 years ago for nine months before July 13, so I’m counting it!” Couldn’t argue with the man there! He was good at math!
Today also marks my son, Andy’s, birthday, so “HAPPY 43rd BIRTHDAY, ANDY!” He was our birthday gift to Dad back in ’77.
And, today also marks the 29th Anniversary of my ordination into the pastoral ministry here at Grace. My! How the time does fly! Dad was pretty proud of his eldest that day, but always marveled how he could have produced a pastor in his family. He never fully realized how important his example was to me. But I sure do!
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WEEKLY DEVOTION JULY 13
Monday, July 13, 2020
Pastor Matthew Woods from Grace Lutheran Church in New Albany, Indiana
“A Life With Definition”
In the fourth grade I had a teacher, Mr. Rathburg, who was famous for his punishment if you acted out of line. He loved to have students write out of the dictionary the definition of whatever misbehavior we were accused of. For example, if you got caught fighting you would have to copy down by hand the definition of fighting during recess instead of going out for recess. If the definition was short, we had to write it out many times as necessary to satisfy Mr. Rathburg. In my case, I got caught running in the room during a couple of rained out recesses where we had to spend our time in the classroom playing games inside. So, I received the maximum sentence for a fourth grader’s capital offence. The definition of ‘run’ went on for a half-a-dozen pages or something like that. This was also Mr. Rathburg’s favorite definition to assign because it was very long. So, I got stuck writing through that thing for two recesses and never finished copying the whole thing because of its length. I managed about a page and a half of copying the small print that was in that dictionary. The punishment was effective.
A fourth grader’s world needs definition. It needs boundaries to be set, understood, and enforced if the fourth grader is to develop respect for others. Mr. Rathburg was up front and very clear about his expectations. Likewise, dictionaries tell us what words mean and what is intended.
As an adult I find that definition allows us to communicate and understand one another. Definition puts clarity on things like property lines and contracts. Definition teaches how to respect others and builds a common ground. Definition is critical if a person is to thrive and succeed. However, the absence of definition may create misunderstanding. An absence of understanding can lead to inaccurate information or to conclusions that are not true. Most of all a lack of definition brings confusion about self and having a sense of meaning—I’ve see this a lot in kids headed to college with no sense of direction. The need for definition is essential for an individual and a community to thrive. Definition enables a person to find meaning and purpose and understanding about oneself.
The Christian life is defined by God’s Word and is perpendicular to the nature of an undefined culture. Consider 2 Timothy 3:14-17. “14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” In effect the Word of God is defining for those who are thoroughly acquainted with it. The reason for this is that the Word of God and Jesus are inseparable in their purpose and truth. To know one is to know the other. To distance ourselves from the Word then is what leads to things looking undefined and becoming seeming less relevant. Being away from the Word also leaves us feeling distant from the church, from other Christians, and from the Lord.
Here’s what I mean. Consider for a moment Genesis 1:26-27. “26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Much is expressed in this passage.
Humanity is fundamentally for bearing the image of our Creator. Humanity is designed to be as God is. He has a God given authority to rule over the created things of this world. Humanity is set apart in this image. I have recently discovered that when Jesus says, “follow me” to Peter in John 21:19 Jesus is literally saying, “Be as I am.” Be as Jesus and therefore made wise unto salvation. This is the call for all Christians to be as Jesus, to look like our Savior in the way we love our families, care for our neighbor, express our faith, even our obedience to the Heavenly Father. To be Christian is to cling to the image that sin had lost but Jesus returns. Also, it shouldn’t be lost on us how Jesus returns our divine image by taking on the image of sinful man and dying on the cross in the image of sinful man only to rise again in the image of a victorious Savior.
What we are up against is the notion that Evolutionists have been promoting—which is not a redefinition but in reality, a total absence of definition. Evolution, communicates humanity as an accident. It says we bear no image of anything or anyone and are only an organic wonder. Often humanity is reduced to an animal existence or less. An Evolutionist advice for solutions–we are told not to look beyond the self to the Lord or to His Word but within self. On the other hand, God expresses humanity in very specific terms, as image bearers.
One should also notice that the written Word is very specific about the binary nature of gender. God created them male and female. There are not endless classifications for gender in the written word. In Genesis 2:24 it is very specific in defining marriage as a binary union of a man and woman. Jesus repeats this formula in Matthew 19:5, “‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’”. This formula also defines what God intends a family to look like as well. Today such things are said to be ‘redefined’. However, I argue that in fact everything defined by the Word, most notably, marriage, sexuality, family, and humanity are much more undefined then ever as worldly wisdom is more and more taught and accepted even by many Christians.
It has always been the strategy of the Devil since the garden . He cannot destroy God’s Word or undo what God has done. So, the idea is to muddy the waters, distort the picture. You remember the words that the devil used in Genesis three. “Did God really say that?” If enough doubt, confusion, and broken wisdom can be thrown in then clarity may be lost.
For Christians the Word of God is meant to be the primary source of faith, wisdom, and connection to Jesus. What is written is the primary source that leads us to salvation and holy living. This Word is in contradiction to man-made notions of humanity, sexuality, and marriage just to name a few things. One may not accept the Biblical definition of these things but a lack of acceptance does not erase or undo that it is Written. In fact, it is also written that Jesus declared in Matthew 24:35 while talking of the end times that, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Faithfulness to the Word of God is what defined the Old Testament prophets even when all but 7000 bowed down to Baal during Elijah’s time.
A fascinating artist William. Utermohlen, an American who lived in Britain was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1995 and passed away in 2007. His last works from 1990-2000 are fascinating because he literally illustrated the inner decay of his mind. (Please look him up). He composed many self-portraits over that time period and over the years they became more and more undefined until his painting held no resemblance to him or even a person. This is such a great illustration of what happens when humanity forgets more and more how God defines humanity, family, marriage, gender, and much more. (http://boicosfinearts.com/exhibitions/william-utermohlen-a-persistence.html)
I see the same signs in so many Christians, particularly those in high school and college who have been told that the church, Christianity, and their parents have lied to them. Emotions grow stagnant, no joy or excitement or even sadness; no sense of fulfillment no matter how much is accomplished; everything as Solomon wrote is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. Also, is a sense that feels like grass is greener somewhere else. One is restless and uncertain but just needs something else, but not feeling like one is getting anywhere. Too many, have no sense of purpose or direction. It’s as if they have no definition to their life—because they often don’t. The result is to look for purpose in causes, movements, ideas, to do something is better than feeling nothing. In the Old Testament people turned to idols. Today, people still turned to idols which are often undefining. To get angry—for what really? To Drift apart from a spouse—to drift where? To find happiness—just not where I’m standing? To make a difference—for whom exactly? For myself or someone else? A lack of definition always steals a person’s identity and leaves one feeling empty. And consider the Word of God then becomes harder when one is sifting through so much.
But consider something else that is defined very clearly in the Word of God. Salvation. The center-piece of Scripture is Jesus, His death on the cross and His resurrection. Many try to redefine all of those things including salvation. However, if you take Jesus at His Word one discovers how wonderfully invested Jesus is in saving Humanity from its sin. Most famous, of course, its John 3:16-17. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through Him.” The Word defines our salvation in Jesus. It also defines heaven as one that is to be with Jesus such as John 14:1-7. Revelations 7 also describes Jesus as the centerpiece of heaven and defines heaven as filled with joy because of it. Granted there is much about heaven we don’t know but the Word clearly brings a believer to understand heaven to be filled with eternal life, with Jesus. It promises that those who believe will be found there because of Christ as new creations. And such a defined promise is meant to instill hope that propels us through this nebulous life, hard times or good. Countless passages are designed for us to know Jesus more fully in and through the way Jesus would define our lives and therefore fill us with hope. This is designed to be good news for humanity.
The contrast is stark really. The Word of God is defining in a very undefined world. Such a contrast is offensive to the wisdom of the world. Its almost madding that such an irrationality is built up against the Word. But this is the nature of sin and what evil does and how evil is defined itself.
I urge you to take courage. The most significant element that is part of the Lord returning for His people is that our enemies all fail to overcome the truth of God’s Word. Another significant element is that Jesus’ greatest desire is for all prodigals to come home with Him to heaven. He is eager for any and all human beings to be a part of His kingdom. Jesus’ forgives. Jesus loves. Jesus judges. Jesus saves. Jesus lives. Jesus will keep His Word. Therein lies a very defining good news for all who believe and love the Word of God.
And now the Lord bless you and keep you. The make His face to shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord look on You with His favor and grant you His peace in Jesus. Amen.
Pastor Woods — John 3:30
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Packets can be picked up beginning Sunday, July 12.
Wednesday, July 22nd
The Church Shelter House 6:30pm-8:00pm
Get ready to bring some color to your world! I will have plenty of items for you to tie-dye but you are welcome to bring your own if you have a favorite white shirt or sheet that needs a little color. I will have a mini sundae bar to help us beat the heat.
Friends are welcome!
Send a text to Rosie at 502-442-1474 if you plan to attend.
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SERVICES IN THE BUILDING AND ONLINE!
PLEASE, we ask that you do not attend if you are older than 65, have any illness or underlying health condition that makes you more vulnerable to the virus, or if you are feeling unwell, or are just not comfortable yet, we encourage you to stay at home and watch us online. Online Sunday services are a new addition and will remain indefinitely. For those planning to attend, we encourage you to wear a face mask, refrain from hand shaking and hugging. We will sanitize everything before and after services. We also will be spacing people apart in the Sanctuary. (No Sunday School or Bible Classes, just yet. More on that later). No VBS for 2020
Saturday, July 18 – 5:00 pm (Communion)
Sunday, July 19 – 8:00 & 10:30 am (Communion at 8:00)
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works so that no one can boast. — Ephesians 2:8-9
Welcome to the Grace Lutheran Church and School web site. There is a variety of information here regarding our congregation and our beliefs. Lutherans are Bible-believing, sacramental Christians who trace their roots back to Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. There have been Lutherans since 1517, particularly in Germany and Scandanavia. Lutherans in America followed large immigrations from Europe in the 1840’s and 1850’s.
The congregation at Grace was founded in 1927 in a small room over a pool hall on State Street in New Albany. The congregation moved to Tenth and Oak, then to Charlestown Road, before building its current facilities on Klerner Lane in 1974. The congregation now numbers just over 1100 souls. We worship at 8:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. on Sundays and at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday evenings. The pastors are Rev. Bruce Kischnick and Rev. Matt Woods.
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Helen Bohannon, Music Director
Georgianne Weathers, School Administrator (812) 941-1912
Karen.Meredith, Church Secretary