Hi from Ted (not Pastor),
At last night's Voters Meeting, Pastor used John 1:1-5&14 to remind us that one of the things that make Lutherans distinctly Lutheran is that we believe that God is with us. Jesus comes to us and dwells with us TODAY, here and now in His Word and sacraments.
In Matthew 18: 20 Jesus tells us that "whenever two or more of you are gathered together in My name, I am with you." So that means He is with is when we read the Bible and pray, He is with us in baptism and holy communion, AND He is with us when we come together to worship Him, study His Word together and seek Him in prayer together.
Pastor has been encouraging us to take up an 8-Week challenge to develop good spiritual habits like personal devotion time, Bible reading, prayer, and church and Bible study attendance. I'd like to take advantage of being St.John's Webmaster to encourage you too.
James 4:8 tells us that if we "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."
If you'd like God to become real in your life, ask Him.
Our family has been trying to hold devotions after supper together. We're busy, so we haven't been perfect about it, but we're trying. Its given us wonderful opportunities to talk about our faith during the week (not just Sunday, not just during Advent).
I try (not always perfect about it, but I try) to make personal time for God every morning. So when Pastor issued his 8-Week challenge, I wasn't sure what more to do. I personally re-committed to praying for others, not just for my own needs and worries and I committed to deliberately find things to be grateful and thank God for. This really has been a challenge, because by nature, I'm pretty negative and whiney.
Its not too late to take up the challenge. Just because you start now, instead of back when we kicked it off, God can still use it grow your faith and your relationship with Him. If you don't hold to it perfectly each and every day, so what? Each day is a new chance to start over.
Finally, I don't just want to encourage you to take up the challenge, I want to encourage you to find ways to encourage each other. You can remind each other about and invite each other to worship, bible-study, and other church events. Remind each other and invite each other to pray for one another. Offer to pray for specific needs or worries. Ask each other- "Is there anything I can pray about for you?"
As long as you've been reading this anyway, don't forget that October is Pastor/Clergy Appreciation Month. How can we encourage Pastor Merrill? You may want to send him a note, say a kind word, or even consider a gift for him. Can I give you another challenge? Would you please make it a habit to pray for our pastor every day? Ask God to protect him, bless him, provide for him and and guide him.
24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25New Living Translation (NLT)