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February 5, 2017, 12:00 AM

God's Conversation Hearts

Those familiar conversation hearts that show up every February can be more than just trite romantic or friendly sayings. Use them to remind you -- or to teach a child -- of the greatest love of all: God's love for us, which empowers our love for others. For example:

  • TRUE LOVE: What love is truer than giving up one's only Son so people might have everlasting life? (John 3:16).
  • MINE: Jesus knows us intimately, as a shepherd knows his sheep. No one can snatch us from him (John 10:27-29).
  • FOREVER: God loves us with an "everlasting love" (Jeremiah 31:3).
  • LOVE ME: The greatest commandment is to love God with our whole being (Luke 10:27).
  • TRUST ME: "Let not your hearts be troubled." We can count on Jesus, now and for eternal life (John 14:1-3).
  • SWEET TALK: God's words are sweeter than honey (Psalm 119:103).
  • BE GOOD: We show our love for Christ by keeping his commands (John 14:15).
  • CALL ME: God longs to be in fellowship with us. We can talk to him anytime in prayer (Jeremiah 33:3).
  • FRIENDS: The greatest love involves laying down your life for your friends (John 15:13) -- precisely what Jesus did.
  • #1: We love because [God] first loved us (1 John 4:19).



January 29, 2017, 2:02 PM

Pastor's Post - February 2017

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

With Valentine's Day upon us, I wanted to take a moment and give Cupid and Valentine their due. In classical Greco-Roman mythology, Cupid is the god of love, or more accurately the god of lust and desire. Originally he was pictured as a slender, winged youth, but in time he began to be pictured as a chubby boy. His weapon of desire is a bow and arrow that instantly induces uncontrollable desire in all hearts he pierces.

How odd it is that Cupid should be associated with Valentine's Day!

Saint Valentine was a Christian that was imprisoned and executed for his faith in Rome on February 14th, 273. Instead of an uncontrollable lusty desire, Valentine is remembered because of his letters explaining God's love to the daughter of his jailer. Legen has it that Valentine healed the little girl of blindness and then, before his death, shared the love of Jesus with her in a series of letters of "Valentines."

These two images of love couldn't be more different. One is selfish and shallow, the other is sacrificial and giving. This Valentine's Day, take a moment and choose the kind of lover you want to be.

"Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." - John 15:3

In His Love,

Pastor Matt

 




November 27, 2016, 10:33 PM

Pastor's Post - December 2016


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This past month I was asked a question about whether a Christian can give gifts in the name of Santa Claus. It, and many other questions about Santa Claus, always seem to come up as we approach the celebration of our Lord’s Birth. These questions are very valid and yet, I think, many times they seem to be knee jerk reactions in defense of the true meaning of Christmas. As a child, Christmas was always a magical time of year in the Duerr household. Mom and Dad did their very best to make it that way. Early on in my life, my dad got me involved in putting up the Christmas lights on the house.

I remember clearly the trips to the Christmas Tree lot, picking out that perfect Christmas Tree, and then taking home and putting in a bucket of water in the garage – where it would stay cool and fresh. I think my dad had more fun with putting up the Christmas Tree than any other event during the year. It usually took him and mom t least a week to put it up. They always did it late at night. Each morning we got up to see if it was up. Usually we were met with an empty space, a little note that said, “not yet,” then just the tree board – minus the village and tree, then the tree board with a single house on it, the tree board with only the Christmas tree stand on it, etc. As I look back at it, I’m sure some modern day psychologists would say it was child abuse.

But, it was far from it, it was Magical! Christmas Eve was the Big day/evening for us. After going to the Christmas Eve service, which was usually the Sunday School Pageant, my dad would leave and go home before the rest of us. About fifteen minutes later, mom would drive us all home and park in front of the house. In the window was a plastic, red, wreath with a red light in the middle of it (it hangs in my garage now). If the light was not lit, we sat in the car until it was lit. If it was lit, we scrambled out of the car and rushed up to the front porch. When we entered the house, there would be presents under the tree and one “stand out” present for each one of us children.

That “stand out” present was never wrapped, but set up much like it would be displayed at a store. It was always the ultimate present, the “big one!” – the one we had been dreaming of! Presents were opened, we always followed that with fried ham sandwiches and then went to bed – waiting to see what Santa would put in our stockings over the fireplace. Christmas day was, of course, a day where we went to church to celebrate the birth of our Savior. Again, it was a Magical/Big Time of Year!

When I was all grown up (yes, I know that there are those who are still waiting for me to fully grow up), I asked my dad about the “stand out” presents which were always from Santa Claus and the stockings that were filled every Christmas morning by him. My dad responded with a simple question, “Did you ever believe in Santa Claus?” The answer was a very quick, “No, I always knew you and mom played Santa Claus.” Then he reminded me of the history of Santa Claus, the opening of presents on Christmas Eve, where we got the name “Kris Kringle” and finally how they were all related to the greatest message ever given to mankind – “For unto you is born, this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

May you all have a Magical/Big Christmas, & Bring the Magic/Bigness of the Christmas Message to Your Family,

Pastor Matt

 




October 4, 2016, 2:11 PM

Pastor's Post - October 2016


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

October is the month of Reformation or, you could say, the rebirth of the church. It was 499 years ago that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg. Those 95 statements were a call to the Church to repent and focused on five key doctrinal principles:

- Sola Gratia: We are saved by "Grace Alone."

- Sola Fide: We are saved through "Faith Alone."

- Sola Scriptura: This is found in the "Scripture Alone."

- Sola Christos: It has been won for us by "Christ Alone."

- Soli Deo Gloria: "To God Alone be the Glory."

 

The first Sunday of this month of Reformation has been designated as LWML (Lutheran Women's MIssionary League) Sunday. The theme for this Sunday and the year that follows is "Come and See." And this truly is the goal of Mission and the Great Commission. In both we are inviting and encouraging people to "come and see" the good news that wea re saved by grace, through faith in Christ, just as the Scripture tells us.

It is a much different message then what society tells us today:

- Follow your dreams.

- Be all that you can be.

- Find happiness in your inner self.

- Acquire the best of everything you desire.

- Don't let anyone tell you what to do or that you are wrong.

- Look good, feel good.

Of course, all of society's offerings leave people with an empty heart. It may address some of our daily wants, needs and desires but it doesn't address the most important issue.

 

Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that God has, "put eternity into man's heart." In our innmerost being, we know that we were created to live - not die. So, it seems, we pursue every new piece of advice of how to live longer, healthier lives. And yet, we still see death all around us. We even joke about it and say you can't avoid death and taxes. But the reality is this, through Christ we can. He paid the greatest tax of all - death - which is the price of our sin and He overcame/defeated death through His resurrection. This is the Good News that we invite others to "COME AND SEE!"

 

Together in Mission,

Pastor Matt




September 1, 2016, 12:00 AM

Pastor's Post - September 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I have always felt that I was very blessed to have grown up in a Pastor's family. I have some very fond memories of my childhood and:

- Our summertime vacation trips to the National Parks (Aug. 25 was the NPS' 100th birthday!)

- Family get togethers with my grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins.

- Special individuals in the different congregations my dad served

- Special teachers I had while enrolled in Good Shepherd Lutheran School

- Setting up chairs at the mission congregation my dad started in Mammoth Lakes

I had a truly magical childhood. But, we all grow up and one of the most impactful memories of my older life was an evening class that I had my senior year at Christ College Irvine. It was only a two unit class which met once a week. Our professor was Dr. Kirth, who was a retired pastor who looked like he was well over 100 years old. Dr. Kirth had this wonderful ability to relate the scriptures to our lives. He literally made the book of Acts come alive. The Book of Acts is the second half of the Gospel of Luke. Luke was writing to his Roman friend Theophilus to explain to him what the Christian movement and Jesus Christ was all about. In Acts 6:10 Luke makes a dramatic change in the way that he wrote as he began to use the words "we" and "us." Luke had become a convert, a Christian!

In many ways, I felt that I had become a Christian too as Dr. Kirth led us through Luke's book. And, I am excited at the prospect of us studying the book of Acts in our new SDG Bible Study beginning this month. If you haven't been in Bible Study before, or even if you have, this is the Bible Study for you. It is a study that will guide you through the beginning of the Christian Church. It will open your eyes to the power of the Holy Spirit. We will see how simple fisherman and an enemy of Christ were literally transformed into powerful evangelists. It is my hope that this study will be for you what Dr. Kirth's class was for me -- a class I looked forward to, never missed and which inspired me to follow in the footsteps of the early Christians.

Together in Service and Study,

Pastor Matt


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