Our Blog

What Does God Want for You?

Do you talk to God and know what his desire is for you? If you say yes, people may be concerned you are hearing voices. But yes, God does speak to me. In Genesis 1, we are introduced to a speaking God. God speaks and creation comes into being. Eleven times in Genesis 1 the verb “to say” is used about God. There is also communication inside of the Trinity that we hear in this first chapter, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). In every category of books in the Bible we will find that God is a speaker. Graham Cole wrote about God in the Scriptures, “as a speech agent who promises (Genesis 12:1-3), permits (Genesis 2:16), warns (Genesis 2:17), informs (Exodus 3:14), and questions (1 Kings 19:9). (Graham Cole, “Some Theological Reflections on the Canon”)

Revelation of His Name

God reveals his name, revealing his identity as one who speaks and acts. The word of God is a performative word accomplishing the very work it announces. The content of the name of God is filled by what he does. Brevard S. Childs wrote about Exodus 3 when God reveals his name, “God is saying that the subsequent events of history will pour content into the name.” (Brevard S. Childs, Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments, 355) We worship God because he is the one who speaks our world into being. He is the one above us in authority that alone desires and deserves our worship.

Salvation

The Holy Bible is a book set apart from all other books because it is the revelation that God desires our redemption. We find in this book recognition of our fall into sin. The Law of God shows us a mirror into our descent. We are not standing still. Our sinful flesh is falling apart. The very God against whom we have rebelled reveals that he desires us to be restored to a right relationship with him and his created world. The gospel is the message of our way back to God and his world through the mercy of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote to Timothy with confidence about the mission of God, “who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).

Walking with God

Genesis 1 shows God created us to be in his image. God has created us to walk with him. God walked in the garden with Adam and Eve. Even when they had sinned God walked in the cool of the garden to seek out Adam and Eve. They were hiding because they were afraid. God wanted to walk with them. God called to Abram to go to the land that he would show him (Genesis 12:1-3). When God rescued the children of Abraham from slavery in Egypt, he guided them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. God walked with them and revealed how they were called to live as his promised people. God gave to them the Law so that they would be a people on earth set apart by the name of the Lord. Leviticus 19:2 describes what it means to walk with God, “be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.” We continue to walk with God as Christians. The first Christians were known as members of The Way (Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 22) presumably they trusted that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Peter referred to Christianity as “the way of truth” (2 Peter 2:2). People who walk with God do not just follow God’s commands but first trust him to be our redeemer. Our steps with God start with him walking toward us in our sinfulness. 

Walking with our Neighbor

Jesus would walk between cities with his disciples and people would call out to him for mercy. Jesus would find the people in need and deliver to them the mercy of God. Today people have needs and God calls upon us to use our gifts to share the mercy of Christ with others. We trust God’s merciful can change lives. God desires that you see your neighbor. To see other people we pray that God would remove the blindness of our selfishness, bitterness, or anger. The Spirit of God opens our eyes to see his beloved creation as he see it. God opens our eyes to see. He opens our ears to hear. He opens our hands to care.

Posted by Evan Gaertner

"Rise, let us go from here"

Jesus told his disciples, “So that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.” (John 14:31).

Jesus summons his followers to leave the comforts we know in the safety of the church and launch into this world. Jesus reveals to the world the love he has for the Father by loving the people the heavenly Father loves. Jesus loves you, and he reveals this love in his suffering for you. He endures the suffering of the cross and death with all the hope and courage that comes from trusting in the victory of the resurrection.

The love of God continually is revealed in the church’s activity in this world. This love is not only visible when we have the peace and calm of comfortable days, but even more when God’s love is found joined to those who are suffering. It can be difficult to join ourselves to the suffering and hurting in this world. I want to live in a bubble where everything is predictable and comfortable. It is natural to surround ourselves with people that look like us, vote like us, earn like us, and worship like us. Homogenous social circles are natural. Jesus challenges his followers when he said, “Rise, let us go from here.” With these words, Jesus moved toward the suffering of the cross and the victory of the resurrection.

After Jesus’ resurrection, there was a night when the disciples returned to the sea as fishermen. They went out and got into a boat, but that night they caught nothing. As the day was breaking, Jesus, from the shore, appeared to them. He said, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” They listened to Jesus, and they were not able to haul in the net, because of the quantity of fish.

Tips for our congregation to cast our nets in a new way:

1. Talk to new people.

Start conversations with people you don’t know very well. Invite colleagues or your neighbors you don’t know well to lunch and to worship services at Our Shepherd. Listen to them and ask questions about their daily lives. Before and after worship services, walk around and introduce yourself to people. Curiosity expands empathy. 

2. Serve

Working on a project with other people encourages us to discover how God uses the different talents of people. We care for and respect other people when we work together in sharing the love of God. Find a project or opportunity when you can serve with other people and discover how God uses a variety of people to share the good news of salvation and life in Christ.

3. Open up

Listening to others helps us grasp their emotional and physical needs. You may discover a friend who has just been diagnosed with cancer or someone else who is going through a difficult time. Listening is important. Empathy is built upon mutual understanding, an exchange of our beliefs and practices. Besides listening, it is also important we are willing to be vulnerable. We do not need to pretend like we have everything figured out. Removing our masks (not only covid masks but also emotional masks) and revealing our feelings is important for true relationships. Sharing stories with people will help us build up our bonds in Christ. Christ is our shared peace.

4. Be Ambitious

Step into the shoes of people you have struggled to understand. We not only discover ourselves through self-examination but also by becoming interested in others. Jesus did not commission his disciples to lives of hermitic study. He called for them to rise and go.

As we move from comfort towards the cross, we will find unity with the love of God for those who are suffering and hurting.

Posted by Evan Gaertner

Gather, Nurture, Serve

Gather, Nurture, Serve

Gather - Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, School, and Childcare is brought into being by the Gospel. Apart from the preaching and teaching of the Gospel the church does not exist. The Holy Spirit works through the Gospel in calling us out of the darkness of condemnation into the marvelous light of Christ’s saving work. We gather in worship at Our Shepherd to receive God’s gracious gifts. Jesus regularly used plural verbs and pronouns as He spoke to the disciples in the upper room (Matthew 26:26-29 and parallels). St. Paul wrote to the whole church in Corinth and in his other letters. The church is both many people and one in Christ. We do not worship alone. We do not meet only our private needs in worship. In the cup of blessing and in the breaking of bread we participate in fellowship with Christ. Though we are many, we are one in Christ. When we gather in worship at Our Shepherd, we do so in fellowship with one another and with all believers in all places and times. We continue to stir up one another to love and good works through gathering together in the name of Christ. I am reminded of how the writer of Hebrews saw the mutual encouragement that happens in meeting together, “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25). With joy in the promises of God in Christ Jesus, we gather in worship and prayer at Our Shepherd.

If there is any conflict or cause for division in our gathering, then pray for our most gracious Father to fill us with all truth and peace. Where we are corrupt, seek God’s purifying presence. If there is any error, seek the Spirit to guide us to truth. If we are missing the target, reform our aim. Seek God’s presence to heal any breaches that have developed in our fellowship.

Nurture - For Our Shepherd to be a place that nurtures faith we seek to be people that build up one another in the body of Christ. The ultimate purpose of our nurture is to know the Lord and do His will. We do not naturally grow in our discipleship by ourselves. Based on this misconception, some people pay minimum attention to Christian education. The Holy Spirit nurtures the church through the Word of God. If a congregation is well established or fledging, the Lord will work through the Word to build it up. Another misconception about nurturing the faith is that the children of believing parents will learn the Christian faith simply by observing them. God has given to us His Word to pass from one generation to the next our faith. When we share our faith with the next generation, some will be concerned that we are indoctrinating or brainwashing our children. Teaching doctrine or teaching the Bible is a good and essential thing. When we share the basis for our faith with another person, we provide them something like GPS or a map into how we walk each day in faith. Listen to the Word of God, and share the promises of God with others. The Holy Spirit builds us up through worship services, studying together in Bible study meetings, and as each of us sharpens another through sharing faith and life together.

Serve - We love God and serve our neighbor. Christian service is built on the foundation that Christ is our redemption. Through our faith in Christ we are completely free and not subject to anyone. Also through faith in Christ, a Christian is a servant of all, subject to all. Martin Luther wrote in 1520, On the Freedom of the Christian, we owe no one anything, except to love one another. We owe no one anything for our salvation. Our salvation has been secured by Christ Jesus. We become righteous, free, and holy in Christ. The Word does it all. One thing alone is necessary for the Christian life, righteousness, and freedom. That one thing is faith in the gospel of Christ. This freedom we find in Christ does not inspire us to a life of leisure but rather calls us to seek opportunities to love and care for others.

Our Shepherd gathers, nurtures, and serves because Jesus loves. 

Posted by Evan Gaertner

Previous12345678910 ... 1415