Monday, August 31, 2009

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost – Proper 18 September 6, 2009

Lessons for Proper 18 (Lutheran Service Book)

Isaiah 35:4–7a ~ Miraculous restoration of health, in body and in nature, will signal the messianic day.
Psalm 146 (antiphon: v. 2)
James 2:1–10, 14–18 ~ Living faith calls forth caring actions for the poor and justice for the oppressed.
Mark 7:(24–30) 31–37 ~ The faith of a mother and of a deaf man’s friends moved them to seek Jesus’ help.

GATHERING THE TEXTS: "Signs of the Times"
In Babylon the captive Jews saw their condition and imagined that God had given up on them. Isaiah's message is filled with comfort: "God will restore Israel to Zion; you will see it in the restoration of health and the new life of joy." Jesus brought not only signs of healing, but even the waters of salvation and new life by his death on the cross. James tells us that we Christians are to be signs of the times with our lives, so that others may believe in our good and gracious God.

PRAYER BEFORE THE SERVICE: Lord God, You create all things new and good again by Your presence in Word and Sacrament. In Your Son, Jesus Christ, You have given Your answer of redemption and healing for the world. Help me make things better around me by the words I speak and the gifts of love I give. Amen.

STEWARDSHIP THOUGHT: Through Christ, God has healed our hearts, broken by sin, and given us new life in His redeeming love; He calls us in faith, to respond to the poor who are crushed by the injustices of society and inequities of life, using our resources of body and spirit to demonstrate God’s love to our neighbors.

OFFERING PRAYER: Lord, You brought healing in Your Word; You make all things new and good.
We dedicate these gifts to You; Help us use them as we should
To bring new life in word and deed for all who suffer want and pain.
Let our faith be shown in love, as we witness Jesus’ name. Amen.

CONVICTION AND COMFORT: We can certainly identify with burning sand and thirsty ground! But we may resist when we realize Isaiah is describing the condition of our hearts when we make our religion a practice of partiality and preferences. God reached out to the people of Isaiah’s day who felt abandoned and deserted, promising to restore them to Zion and make them signs of God’s redeeming love. In Christ we are also restored in God’s mercy and readily become signs of healing and help to the poor and displaced around us.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

This Week at Mt. Olive

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:10-11, 13

These words from St. Paul are a favorite of mine. The come in the larger context of Ephesians 6:10-20, but I fear they are often misunderstood and misquoted. The weaponry is all defensive, save the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. The goal is not the offensive "building a bigger heaven" that some would say. Rather, it is standing firm in the evil and, "having done all, to stand firm." The goal is standing firm in the one true faith until the day when our Lord calls us home.

I think one other thought bears stating, as it is near and dear to me. As you read Ephesians 6:10-20, notice the weaponry and those who bear it. In many circles, there is a lot of talk about church leadership. One gets the idea that Christian leaders=2 0are like generals in a war room, hashing out plans. In service to our Lord, let's make no mistake. The weaponry of which Paul speaks in Ephesians 6 is that of the infantry. Bearing the full armor of God, we are all infantry “ foot soldiers, ground pounders, grunts. Even Christian leaders are grunts. The plan of war has already been established by our Lord Jesus. Bearing the full armor of God, we stand firm as we stand under the cross, standing on the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Satan is a worthy opponent; he would love nothing more than to topple Christ's soldiers. Stand firm, then, Paul says, in the might of Christ, fitted with the armor our Lord provides, sustained by His promises.

Events at Mt. Olive
Rally Day is always one of my favorite events. It's an opportunity to hear children singing and to embark on another great year of Bible instruction. Today's celebration was a great opportunity to rejoice in the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ that we are given to share with generation after generation. In the coming months, please make it a point to pray for Mt. Olive's great corps of Sunday School teachers by name, as well as all Sunday School teachers throughout the Church.

Guitar worship this morning was a real treat - singing hymns with some different instruments. Look for coming opportunities for guitar worship, about once per month.

Wednesday Morning Bible Study has begun again at 9:30 a.m. Currently, the study is called "The Unexplainable" and comes from Concordia Publishing House's "Faith on the Edge" series. Trust me when I say after the first class that this is generating a whole bunch of great discussion! Don't worry if you want to join us--it's not too late!

Choir begins again Wednesday evening, September 2, at 6:30 p.m. No experience is necessary to sing in the choir at Mt. Olive. If you have any questions about the choir, the music, when we sing, etc., please give the director, Kathy Jennings, a call.

Confirmation Instruction is just around the corner. Beginning September 13, confirmands will meet for class from 12:30 to 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoons. This year, instruction will have an online component, as well as the classroom components.

Prayer Concerns:
Those who serve in our armed forces, including Michael Baker (Iraq), Andrew Epley (nearing deployment), and Richard Rhode (North Carolina).
The pastors of our circuit and their wives: Pastor Sturgis (Aransas Pass), Pastor Wagstaff (Rockport), Pastor Strimple (Trinity), Pastor Brynestad (Messiah), Pastor Seaman (Our Savior), Pastor Schubert (Lord of Life), P astor Franke (Bishop), Pastor Eckert (Kingsville), Deacon Autry (West Sinton), as well as the retired pastors (Pastor Childs, Pastor Schubert, Pastor Kirk, and Pastor Flores)
The teachers in the Lutheran schools and care programs in our area (Portland, West Sinton, Messiah, Bishop, Lord of Life, Mt. Olive, and Trinity) and those who are committed to their care
Our national, state, and local leaders

This Week at Mt. Olive:
Monday, August 31
6:30 p.m. Zumba Aerobics

Wednesday, September 2
8: 30 a.m. School Chapel in the Sanctuary
9:30 a.m. Wednesday Morning Bible Study in the overflow
6:30 p.m. Choir Rehearsal

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bokenkamp Children's Shelter

Bokenkamp Children’s Shelter serves the needs of unaccompanied refugee minors in the hopes that with access to educational opportunities, shelter and legal resources, these children can be empowered to make their own way in life, whether that means returning to their home countries, being reunified with their families, or seeking asylum in the United States.

Bokenkamp provides dormitory-style living, bilingual educational opportunities, computer instruction, outdoor recreation, crafts and hobbies, spiritual care and a number of activities that strive to foster a sense of normalcy for children who may never have enjoyed such stability in their very young lives before this.

Here there is hope for a bright future for these children, either in the USA or in their home countries. If you have a craft, a talent, a hobby, some spare time, or a big heart, there is a place for you as a volunteer at Bokenkamp Children’s Shelter. While fluency in Spanish is certainly a big help, it is not a necessity for volunteers. Contact Sarah Hill (361 994 1214), email or go to .

Monday, August 24, 2009

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost – Proper 17

Lessons for Proper 17 (Lutheran Service Book)

Deuteronomy 4:1–2, 6–9 ~ When God’s people obey His commands, others will be attracted to our great God.
Psalm 119:129–36 (antiphon: v. 132)
Ephesians 6:10–20 ~ God provides spiritual armor to protect His people from the powers of the devil.
Mark 7:14–23 ~ Jesus declared that all foods are clean, but evil thoughts from our hearts make us unclean.

GATHERING THE TEXTS: A Way That Only Appears to be Right
Some things are done just for show. The Lord God of Israel gave commandments to His people so they would look good to their neighbors and His name would be glorified, but it was to go more than just "skin deep." Jesus taught the Pharisees and teachers of the Law that only appearing to be right on the outside was not the same as being clean within. St. Paul explained that the full armor of one of the Lord's soldiers must include the breastplate of God's righteousness that changes the heart through the blood of Christ.

PRAYER BEFORE THE SERVICE: O Holy Spirit, nourish me by Your holy Word that I may not be contaminated with the false teachings of this world. Guide me in living by the wisdom of Your righteousness so that my life will be an example of Your great love and I may always be ready to speak the Gospel of Your peace. Amen.

STEWARDSHIP THOUGHT: God has given us great resources and commandments on how to use them in relationship with others so that we bring glory to His name. When we use His gifts to show off the love of God, He will bring many people to know His grace.

OFFERING PRAYER: Lord, when we bring these gifts to You
Don’t let them just be brought for show.
Bless them – and us in all we do,
To show Your grace for all to know. Amen.

CONVICTION AND COMFORT: God demonstrates His loving care for all people through the caring love of those who keep His commandments. When we put on a good front but carry on selfish and hurtful practices in secret, we deny the relationship to which God has called us. We have been given the breastplate of Christ’s righteousness to make us clean in God’s sight, inside and out. We now stand ready to share the good news in loving ways that will bring people to declare how wonderful God is.

Back to School!

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4

It has always struck me as odd that dedicated parents will insist that their children brush their teeth before going to bed but will allow them to “choose” whether or not they will go to Sunday School—that we will insist on 30 minutes or an hour of reading a day, but never worry that our child hasn’t heard or read a portion of God’s Word that day—that we will make sure that our children are at school on time and yet come late to church Sunday after Sunday—that we will make sure our child has money for lunch or a field trip but never see to it that they have money for an offering to the Lord.
What is being taught and modeled by these kinds of actions? We are teaching our children that physical health is more important that spiritual health—that feeding their mind is more important than feeding their soul—that the principal who monitors school attendance is more real than the God who waits to be worshiped—that having money for one’s own necessities and pleasures comes before giving to the work of the Lord.
One hour of worship on Sunday or even a week of church camp is not enough to offset this kind of teaching by example that comes in the home. Kids aren’t stupid—they see what their parents really believe to be true and how much is just talk.
It is time for us as parents to take a step back, reflect on what God’s Word says is truly important, and re-prioritize our activities and attitudes. There is nothing more important than our child’s spiritual life. Not their health or education or future.
This “Back to School” month offers us a great opportunity to recognize and repent of our failure to be the kind of Christian parent that God desires that we be, receive the forgiveness of Christ’s shed blood on the cross, and begin again the important work of raising Christian children whose first priority is the Lord.

This Week at Mt. Olive

Greetings, fellow redeemed!

Have you ever noticed how Christ-centered worship really is? To be honest, the liturgy in worship takes us completely out of the equation, making the entire service about Christ! Listening a particular radio show I frequent, the host mentioned that he had been accused by a popular Christian pastor of preaching too much Christ, or linking Christ where He isn’t specifically mentioned in Holy Scripture. Like, say, Proverbs. So, why the big emphasis on Christ?

The Forgiveness of Sins! That’s a good place to start. Sometimes we talk as if “forgiveness of sins” is a commodity, something that kind of tangible that’s handed out. “Here, have a bowl of forgiveness of sins,” some illustrations might indicate. But the forgiveness of sins isn’t a thing; the forgiveness of sins is a promise! In forgiving us, God says, “I promise I’m not going to get even over this, because I punished My Son, Jesus Christ, for it.” Notice Christ again? That means that, on that first Good Friday, every blow of the hammer, every time Jesus’ flesh ripped from nails or thorns or wood or spear, every drop of blood, every torrent of sweat, every groan and cry from our Lord’s mouth, was brought about by God the Father on account of our sinfulness.

The grace of God! Again, another great place either to start or end is here. Sometimes, like forgiveness, we think grace is a commodity. If the Christian life is a struggle, God might need to add a quart of grace in our spiritual filler tube. Again, grace is not a thing that’s like an engine additive. Rather, grace, again, is a promise! The old Lutheran guys taught that grace is favor Dei propter Christum – God’s favor on account of Christ. Grace is God the Father’s attitude toward us on account of, you guessed it, Jesus Christ and what He has done as our substitute.

I mentioned before that the liturgy takes us out of the equation and centers everything on Christ. I’m reminded of Luther’s Sacristy Prayer: But do not forsake me, for if ever I should be on my own, I would easily wreck it all.

In preparation for Rally Day this next Sunday, there are quite a few happenings this week. Sunday School lessons are in! Kim has asked all Sunday School teachers to meet at the Church tomorrow evening (Monday) at 6 p.m. to receive and go over lessons. If you haven’t taught before, this is really a valuable time to learn from some experienced folks about teaching Sunday School – tips for the lessons, how to do memorizations, and the like.

Monday evening is also the night for a special planning meeting. If you have some dates and times from a committee, board, or a special area of ministry, please come to the meeting. My goal is to spend an hour (maybe less) constructing a calendar from September through December. If you have dates and times and activities for the calendar and you cannot make the meeting, please give me a call BEFORE the planning meeting.

Tuesday evening is a meeting of the Board of Elders at 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday Morning Bible study reconvenes this Wednesday after the two months. Class starts at 9:30 a. m. and lasts for 1 hour. The topic will be ready Wednesday morning.

Also in preparation for Rally Day, those interested in participating in a guitar worship service are invited to a rehearsal at 6:30 p.m. in the sanctuary. Songs have been chosen and a few instrumentalists have been identified. Particularly needed are singers – those who can help lead the congregation, especially at late service.

Finally, if you attended Camp Lone Star this summer, there will be a rehearsal on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. for the late service on Sunday.

Next Sunday is Rally Day! This is an excellent opportunity to invite friends and neighbors who may or may not have a church home. The main Rally Day festivities will be at the Sunday School hour, late service, and after late service.

God bless!

Prayer Needs:
Sunday School teachers here at Mt. Olive and throughout the Church, that God would bless them with His wisdom and compassion.
Confirmands who will begin classes on September 13.
All pastors and teachers of the Church who begin teaching another year of Jr. Confirmation.
Students and teachers, both those who begin school tomorrow, those who are already in the thick of instruction, and those who home school, that God would bless those who teach and those who learn.
Those who serve in our armed forces, including Michael Baker (Iraq), Edwin Rodriguez (Afghanistan), and Richard Rhode (North Carolina).

This Week at Mt. Olive:
Monday, 24 AUG 09
8 a.m. School begins!
7 p.m. Planning Meeting

Tuesday, 25 AUG 09
6:30 p.m. Elders Meeting
6 p.m. Sunday School Teachers Meeting
Wednesday, 26 AUG 09
9:30 a.m. Wednesday Morning Bible Study
6:30 p.m. Zumba Aerobics in the Fellowship Hall
Guitar Worship Rehearsal in the sanctuary

Saturday, 29 AUG 09
10 a.m. Camp Song practice
4 p.m. Guitar Worship rehearsal and set up

Sunday, 30 AUG 09
Rally Day!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

Lessons for Proper 16 (Lutheran Service Book) (Christian Education Emphasis)
Isaiah 29:11–19 ~ When people think they have all the answers, God will surprise them with His plans.
Psalm 14 (antiphon: v. 7a)
Ephesians 5:21–33 ~ Marriage is not a human tradition; it is modeled on Christ’s relationship to the Church.
Mark 7:1–13 ~ Jesus called the Pharisees to task for putting rules taught by men in place of God’s Word.

GATHERING THE TEXTS: Learn the Rules, but Trust the Ruler!
In Isaiah’s day, rules taught by men allowed the people to feel secure even while they ignored God. They sealed up the scroll of God’s Word by pretending they knew all of God’s plans. Jesus taught the Pharisees that their obsessive attention to rules prevented them from following God’s commands. Even in a marriage, keeping all the rules is not what makes it strong, but the love and trust between husband and wife. That’s the way it is in the church: we can learn all the rules, but we can only trust the Lord when we know His sacrifice of love for us. Christian Education includes the rules for Christian living, but if it doesn’t teach us to know the steadfast love of God, it doesn’t really teach us what we have to know.

PRAYER BEFORE THE SERVICE: Lord, I have not always trusted You; sometimes I have thought Your teachings -- and Your commands -- were too hard for me. Touch me again with the power of Your Spirit that I may serve You in word and deed always. Help me lead others to Your Word of Life through my loving deeds. Amen.

STEWARDSHIP THOUGHT: Rules for living are “a dime a dozen,” even adjusted for inflation, but the steadfast love of God that presents us to Himself holy and blameless, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, cannot be bought at any price, other than the blood of Christ who gave Himself up for us to make us His for all eternity.

OFFERING PRAYER: Lord, it is good to know You and know that we can trust You. Thanks for those who have been in our lives to teach us, not just Your rules, but Your love. Use these gifts to teach us more – and to teach more of us – to know and trust and love You. Amen.

CONVICTION AND COMFORT: It is easier to keep the traditions we have become accustomed to, than to obey God’s commands. Outward forms fit us comfortably, but the spirit of the law requires commitment from our hearts. When we are just keeping the rules, but don’t care what the rules are for, it is time to unseal the Word of God and rediscover that Christ gave himself up for us to make us clean by the washing of the water and the word. When we know the One who has claimed us, we will give ourselves, not just our actions, to God.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Servants of the Lord - 2

“We’ll Serve the Lord”

Joshua 24:14 - 15; Luke 2:49; Matthew 20:28

Here’s Joshua, the son of Nun, the aide
de camp to Moses – faithful man who went
to spy out Canaan with Caleb – made
a good minority report – content
to wait another forty years until
he led the people in the promised land!
He called them up, and there upon the hill
he taught all Moses taught and took his stand:
“But as for me and all my house, we’ll serve
the Lord!”
Another Yeshua would stay
behind to teach the teachers to observe
God’s will. There in His Father house that day,
He pledged to meet God’s justice perfectly
and do the Father’s work to set us free.

– Gilbert A Franke, 12/2005

This Week at Mt. Olive

Greetings in the name of Jesus, fellow redeemed!

The name of Jesus, now there’s something of a puzzle. I often ask Bible classes who Jesus’ Old Testament namesake is.

Answering that question takes a little bit of digging. Jesus’ name in Aramaic is “Yeshua.” See where this is going? Pushing it a bit farther back into Hebrew, it’s “Yehoshua,” or, as we’ve come to contract it, “Joshua.” That was the book from which the Old Testament lesson was read today.

Picking the name apart, it means, “The Lord delivers.” In the prophet Joshua, there are no end to the episodes in the life of Israel in which that name is fulfilled. Joshua was the one officiating the conquest of Canaan, the promised land. He was the one who commanded Israel to serve the Lord in faithfulness and sincerity just before his death.

As great as the prophet was, his service and his name pointed to an even greater fulfillment of his name. The greater Joshua is, of course, Jesus. He delivers from all, from death, and from the power of the devil. Yet, He delivers by suffering and dying in true innocence, and by shedding His holy, precious blood to cover the multitude of the world’s sins.

In the Old Testament lesson from Joshua 24, Joshua was preparing to die. In Joshua’s words in chapter 24, there is an incredible confidence, but it’s not self-confidence. Joshua is confident in his Lord as he prepares for death.

One of the great misconceptions these days is that the Christian faith is about having a good life. Tell that to the countless martyrs who suffered violently because of their Christian faith.

No, the Christian faith is about having a good death! It’s about knowing your Savior, Jesus Christ, as the One who has delivered you and covered your sins with His blood.

All of us will face the day which Joshua faced, the day of our death. As we face it, we can’t place any confidence in ourselves. Were we ever faithful enough to God? Were we ever sincere enough in our faith or in caring for our neighbor? Confidence in us will simply not deliver.

As we approach the day of death, the greatest confidence is in Christ our Lord. His perfect service, His unquestionable faithfulness, His suffering and death, His holy precious blood cover our sinfulness and, in Christ, there is life everlasting.

As we approach the beginning of another Sunday School year, a Sunday School teachers’ meeting will be held Monday, August 17, at 6 p.m. If you’re a Sunday School teacher or sub, please attend this kick-off meeting.

Jr. Confirmation is about to kick off another year. Those who are going into first and second year confirmation and their parents will need to attend a special meeting on Wednesday, August 18, at 6:30 p.m. At this meeting, we’ll discuss scheduling, curriculum, and expectations.

Following the Jr. Confirmation meeting, those interested are invited for Guitar Worship practice, gearing up for worship on August 30. This practice should go from about 7:35 to about 8:35 p.m.

Also this week, Jr. Youth is hosting a special Game Night on August 21, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Bring a favorite game and a snack to share and get ready for some fun!

And, this week, the Fellowship Committee is hosting a special Fellowship Night at P.O.E.T.S. restaurant at Saratoga and Everhart, at 7 p.m. We’ll be using a private room, so please give the church office a call if you plan to attend so we’ll have plenty of seating.

Monday, August 24, will be a special planning meeting. Boards and committees and other volunteers are invited to help put together a calendar from September through December. Even if the actual event isn’t decided, a date and sponsor would be a wonderful addition to the calendar. Planning begins at 6:30 p.m. We should be done by 8 p.m.

Rally Day is quickly approaching! This is a great opportunity for rejoicing in the ministry of the Word at Mt. Olive. Look at next week’s This Week message for service opportunities for Rally Day and the meal following Late Service.

I will be out of the office Monday for Jury Duty.

In Christ,

Prayer Concerns:
Those who serve in our armed forces, especially those deployed (Michael Baker – Iraq, Edwin Rodriguez – Afghanistan, Richard Rhode – North Carolina) and those about to deploy (Andrew Epley – Deysi’s husband, and Athena – John Miller’s niece).
Area teachers who return to work this week, and students as they prepare to return to school
All who live in coastal areas as the hurricane season begins to “ramp up” in intensity
Pastors and confirmands throughout the Church as instruction in the truths of the faith prepares to begin for another year

This Week at Mt. Olive:
Monday, 17 AUG
Sunday School Teachers Meeting, 6 p.m.
Zumba Aerobics, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, 19 AUG
Confirmation Kick Off Meeting in the Sanctuary, 6:30 p.m.
Zumba Aerobics, 6:30 p.m.
Guitar Worship practice, 7:35 p.m.

Friday, 21 AUG
Game Night, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, 22 AUG
Fellowship at P.O.E.T.S., 7 p.m.

Monday, August 10, 2009

This Week at Mt. Olive

Yesterday afternoon, I was privileged to be part of the ordination service for Rev. Christopher Brynestad. Pastor Brynestad is the son, of course, of the pastor at Messiah, Pastor Brynestad. He is due to be installed in the next few weeks at a church in Decatur, AL.

It's a great celebration to observe the ordination of a pastor. Here is a fellow servant of Christ, whose duty it is to proclaim God's saving message in Christ Jesus. There are a lot of discussions these days about what ministry is and what pastors are supposed to do. Some say be visionaries, while others will say theologians. In John 20, Jesus gave the shape and duty of the office of the pastor: "As the Father has sent Me, so also I send you. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven him. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." The great message pastors are to proclaim is that, at the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, the debt of all our sin, the guilt of all our sin, was nailed to the cross. It died with Jesus. Our Lord touches us with these saving truths through pastors as they proclaim and bring the special ways in which the true God interacts with His people: the proclamation of forgiveness, Holy Baptism, and the Sacrament of the Altar. Believing and trusting in Him, we have what Jesus says we have: the forgiveness of sins and, as we are reminded in the Catechism, life and eternal salvation.

A few things about this week are in order.
There will be a special get together for post-high school/college age folks on Wednesday, at 6:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall. Bring your favorite soda, a piece of fruit, and, if you desire, a friend. We'll play a game of Apples to Apples and put together some needed, if not humorous, college student survival kits.

Saturday, August 15, there will be a special work day at the church, beginning at 9 a.m. We're getting things ready in preparation for the beginning of school and of the Sunday School term.

Sunday, August 16, there will be a Sr. Youth get together. Meet in the Fellowship Hall at 6 p.m. Bring your favorite soda (Pastor says he'll supply the pizza), play a game, and have some good fellowship.

Friday, August 21, is a Game Night at Mt. Olive. Beginning at 6:30 p.m., bring your favorite game (or enjoy someone else's), and a snack to share. Let's get ready for some fun games!

Saturday, August 22, is a fellowship night at P.O.E.T.S. restaurant at Saratoga and Everhart. Please call the church office to make your reservation!

God bless!

Brothers and sisters, please pray for us:
All college students, many of whom will be moving away from home for the first time this week.
All school students of all ages, as they prepare for school to start.
All teachers and professors who will teach these students, that our Lord would cast the bright beams of His wisdom upon them.
Those who serve in our armed forces, including Michael Baker (Iraq), Edwin Rodriguez (Afghanistan), Richard Rhode (North Carolina), that God would shield them from danger, give them strength to perform their duties, and bring them safely home to their families.
All pastors and confirmands who will soon begin Jr. Confirmation Instruction, that they would grow in the knowledge of the Lord and rejoice in His gifts.

This Week at Mt. Olive:
Monday, August 10
Zoomba Aerobics, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, August 11
Zoomba Aerobics, 6:30 p.m.
College Age/Post-High School Get Together, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, August 15
Church and School Workday, 9 a.m.

Sunday, August 16
Sr. High Get Together, 6 p.m.

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost – Proper 15

Lessons for Proper 15 (Lutheran Service Book)
Proverbs 9:1–10 ~ A wise person learns of sin from the Law of God and turns to the gift of God’s Grace.
Or Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18 ~ Joshua charged the people to serve God alone and forsake false gods.
Psalm 34:12–22 (antiphon: v. 11)
Ephesians 5:6–21 ~ In Christ, God has called us to live in the light of His love by the power of the Spirit.
John 6:51–69 ~ Jesus’ word promises us life in place of death through the gift of His body and blood.

God calls us to a banquet prepared by his wisdom: "Come, leave your simple ways and walk in the way of understanding." Wouldn't it be wonderful to have all the answers to our complex life? God offers the answers to everything that matters: St. Paul wrote "Understand the Lord's will so you can live wisely in this wicked world." Jesus offers us the food of eternal life, his body and blood. We can have it, no questions asked, without a doubt!

PRAYER BEFORE THE SERVICE: O Holy Spirit, I have often used my time unwisely and sometimes embraced ways that are contrary to your will. Help me eat and drink fully at your banquet of grace through Jesus, my Savior, so that I will be able to live by the wisdom of God's righteousness. Amen.

STEWARDSHIP THOUGHT: It is a wise person who can take criticism constructively, especially in spiritual and in financial matters. Perhaps that is because the way we use material blessings reflects how we appreciate God’s spiritual gifts.

OFFERING PRAYER: When we feed on You, Lord, it is a gracious thing –
Holy Body broken and precious Blood of life.
Gracious, too, Your doing, to take these gifts we bring,
Blessing them for healing a world torn up by strife. Amen.

CONVICTION AND COMFORT: If it is a matter of sophistication, then our problem is that we are offended by the simple invitation to “Come, eat and drink; walk in the way of insight.” Presented with a clear choice, as the people of Joshua’s day were, we would be reasonable to choose life over death. But if it is a matter of light and darkness, then we can do nothing better than to hear the call of the Spirit, be awakened from our slumber of spiritual death, eat the Bread of life, and live forever.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Ordination of Christopher Paul Brynestad

The Rev. Christopher Paul Brynestad was ordained into the Holy Ministry of Word and Sacraments Sunday afternoon at Messiah Lutheran Church in Corpus Christi. He will be installed next Sunday as associate pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Decatur, Alabama. His father, the Rev. Dale Brynestad served as the presiding pastor.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Ordination of Candidate Christopher Paul Brynestad

I want to remind you that tomorrow at 3:00 in the afternoon, Candidate Christopher Paul Brynestad will be ordained into the Holy Ministry of Word and Sacrament. Circuit clergy will vest with red stoles, serve as lectors, and participate in the laying on of hands.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

Lessons for Proper 14 (Lutheran Service Book)
1 Kings 19:1–8 ~ When Elijah was at the end of his road, God gave him bread, water, and marching orders.
Or Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18 ~ Joshua charged the people to serve God alone and forsake false gods.
Psalm 34:1–8 (antiphon: v. 3)
Ephesians 4:17—5:2 ~ Christ has rescued us from a futile life without God, and given us a new life to live.
John 6:35–51 ~ Jesus, the Bread of Life, came from the Father and gave His flesh for the life of the world.

GATHERING THE TEXTS: Something to Live For
Elijah was hounded by Queen Jezebel until he was ready to die, but God miraculously provided food for Elijah that carried him on to the next job God had for him to do. In our new life in Christ we sometimes get discouraged because it is impossible to be faithful imitators of God as St. Paul charges us to be. Only when we are fed the spiritual food of Christ himself, the Bread of Life, can we have the energy to go on to the next task God has in mind for us.

PRAYER BEFORE THE SERVICE: O Lord, sometimes I am so discouraged that I am ready to give up on myself and my friends. Remind me that I can always trust You in the days ahead. Strengthen me in Christ my Savior to face the next task. Amen.

STEWARDSHIP THOUGHT: In Christ, we live new lives, not taking everything we can for ourselves, but always eager to share what we have with those in need; not wrapped up in the discouraging circumstances of our own life, but ready to strengthen our bodies for the journey before us, just as Christ gave His life that we may live for God.

OFFERING PRAYER: Lord, when Elijah thought there was no reason to go on, You showed Him Your purpose in his life. Show us what You would have us do, and give us the means and the will to do it. Amen.

This Week at Mt. Olive

Good evening, fellow redeemed! Greetings from Austin, Texas.

This past Wednesday, Kathy and I took the kids to Fiesta Texas as part of our vacation. Of course, Jonathan and Kathy were the roller coaster hounds. I rode Goliath, a copy of a roller coaster I rode many times in St. Louis. This time, I could tell I wasn't going to be able to keep my balance if I kept riding them. Alas, the other four, especially Kathy, Jonathan, and Michael, hit the coasters and some of the scarier rides (which I wanted to ride, too). My favorite ride was the Lazy River.

One thing struck me about this Fiesta Texas experience. First, it was kind of expensive, even though we were creative in getting drinks and lunch. But, the biggest lesson on this was time. In riding Goliath, we waited in line for about a half hour to ride a 90-second ride. Kathy, Jonathan, Michael, and Katie waited in line about an hour for Boomerang, for a ride that lasted less than two minutes. Most of the waits were shorter, but you get the idea.

Another innovation at parks: for a fee that's not that small, one can purchase a pass for head of the line privileges! For my family, for a cool $100 extra, we could have put ourselves at the head of the line! But, would head of the line for a half-dozen or so rides that lasted less than two or three minutes be worth that C-note?

How the anticipation builds before an experience of great excitement. But, somehow, the fulfillment of that anticipation is always a bit disappointing. The experience is shorter than we expected or less than we expected or something else that is lacking. But, isn't that the way of this life in this world? Be it a car, a trip, a park visit, or something else, even if we're given head of the line privileges, what we have is never enough.

St. Paul commented on this in Philippians 410-13:
I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. [11] Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. [12] I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. [13] I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

This passage has been quoted ad nauseum over the smallest issues. Paul's point is simple: Whatever the circumstances, the Lord of heaven and earth gives strength to endure and to cling to Him. That's a great promise, even when the ride you're waiting for has "technical difficulties" and prolongs your wait!

You are invited to Messiah Lutheran Church in Calallen next Sunday, August 9. Seminarian Christopher Brynestad will be ordained into the Office of the Holy Ministry at a special service at 3 p.m.

I'll be back in the office on Friday.

God bless!

Prayer Primer for this Week:
The sick, the infirmed, and the dying
Those who are stricken with mental illness
The pastors of Circuit 27 and our circuit counselor, Pastor Eckert
Those who serve in our armed forces, who defend our nation
The police, firefighters, EMTs, nurses, and all others who respond to emergencies to protect and aid our society
That God's holy will be done in our lives

This Week at Mt. Olive
Monday, August 3
Zumba Aerobics, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, August 5
Zumba Aerobics, 6:30 p.m.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Hard Lesson to Learn Philemon 17-19

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever
grievances you may have against one another.
Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” – Colossians 3:13 NIV

St. Paul’s words to the first Christians in Colosse are the sort of thing you’d expect a group of New Testament believers to be doing; after all, that’s the way Christians live, isn’t it?
But consider this: one of the messengers carrying Paul’s letter was a man named Onesimus. He delivered this letter along with another to a member of the congregation. The second letter is also included in the New Testament. It is Paul’s Letter to Philemon.
Onesimus was a slave who had run away from his owner. Runaway slaves could be killed by their owners without any questions asked. Now Paul, by way of the personal letter, was asking Philemon to welcome Onesimus back, forgive him, and perhaps set him free to serve in the mission work of the early church. It was a hard lesson for Philemon, as well as that church, to learn!
Can you imagine the tensions in that congregation, people siding with Philemon or with Paul or having their own opinion about how this rebellious slave should be handled? Any factions, jealousies, or divisions in our congregation – or any congregation today – are small by comparison! And yet they are big enough to disrupt Christ’s mission and our witness to the love of God in Christ.
Even today, we need to be reminded of the source of power we have to be able to bear with each other and forgive, just as God in Christ has forgiven us!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Synod Joins Twitter, Facebook

Check out the Lutheran Reporter article at

or Visit the Web site at and read messages there.

Become one of the many fans of LCMS on Facebook!
The Synod's Facebook page -- at -- has 2,873 "fans"