Barbara G.’s Story on Repentance, part 2

We first started with learning how Jesus commanded us to go out into the world and spread the gospel to all parts of the world, but I wasn’t even ready to do it in my own little town. We need to know the scriptures so that we can explain things to people who want to know more of Jesus’ words and how they can help them.

We studied prayer and its overwhelming power and ability to help you and others who need help with their lives. We all realized how important it is to include prayer in your everyday life and to live by its power. Prayer is a very important part of my daily life and I can’t imagine going without praying.

We learned about the history of our church and why that’s so important to know our heritage. Our forefathers of this church sacrificed everything to build this building that we worship in every week. Sometimes I wonder what they would think of us now and our failed efforts to spread the word around the world.

We’re learning how to be good teachers of the word, to be good leaders for the church, to keep the right priorities focused on God at all times. We discuss so many facets of how we should dedicate our lives to Christ and his church. It’s not that Pastor hasn’t talked with us about some of these subjects in bible study or church but it’s just more intense with Mr. Weatherly from F.T.F.

He has walked us through some very important ways in which we can learn to begin a whole new way of dedicating our lives to Jesus Christ and our church.

In the world we live in now, it’s very different than our founders experienced. People were eager to come to church then but now we have to go out and find the lonely, the hurting, the hungry and those people who think that they don’t need any change like I did.

If you have a big splinter and it hurts, just tell God, because I promise you, He has the answer.

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Through the Generations

“One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty deeds.”  Psalm 145:4

I’m writing this on Sunday, and we had a baptism at our church.  As a part of the service, the parents, the sponsors and the congregation make promises.  We are all charged with seeing that this child is brought up with good Christian instruction and examples.  We are to pray for him or her.  Here is the reasoning:

“We believe that God gives the gift of faith in baptism, but that this gift will be lost unless the child is taught the Word of God, upheld by prayer and given a Christian example to follow.  This is first the responsibility of you parents, then of the sponsors, and the entire congregation.  May we remain faithful in this responsibility and privilege.”

Do you get it?  This is task belongs to the laity of the church. We are the ones who are to see that the faith is passed on through the generations.  I wonder how seriously we take this promise. Too often, babies are baptized because it’s a kind of social or family ritual.  We don’t see them again (or not very often) and we just forget about those important promises we made before God, no less.  I’m as guilty as anyone, but lately I’ve been thinking about how to do a better job.  Here are some of my thoughts:

  1. We could start a cradle roll program.  (This involves purchasing packets with Christian information to be sent to families with young children periodically)
  2. We can certainly add newly baptized children to our personal and corporate prayers.  In fact, we committed to do this by our participation in the baptismal service.
  3. We can stay in touch with the parents if they do not attend regularly, inviting them to events, and offering babysitting services if that is needed.

Our church is almost 200 years old, and it is humbling to think about the generations who have passed on the message of the faith to their own children and others in this place.  Here’s what they had to say in the original Declaration of Principles:

 ” We take Heaven and Earth as our witnesses of our attachment to Evangelical Christianity and that its extension is our most ardent desire; that it is our wish that the doctrine of Christ’s atonement may be proclaimed to destitute souls here in this place; that we expect our children and our children’s children never to forsake their church, but to be true to it.”

We are links in a chain, a chain that goes back not only 200 years at St. Paul’s, but all the way back to the disciples who walked with Christ.  We can’t let His message stop with us.  It’s our duty, as lay people in the church to pass it on.  We need to take that duty seriously.  What are some ways your congregation has found to do this?  I would like to hear more ideas.

 

A Firm Foundation

“For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

1 Corinthians 3:11

“This Jesus is the stone, rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.”

Acts 4:11

“[The Church is] built on the foundation of the prophets and apostles, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone.”

Ephesians 2:20

In the Bible, the Church is sometimes described as a building…not a literal building, but a one constructed of “living stones” (that’s us) and with the firm foundation and cornerstone of Christ.

The living stones will change over time:  people die, move, or just stop coming.  However, if our congregation has been properly erected with the proper foundation and cornerstone, these changes will not destroy it.

Our congregation, St. Paul’s Free Lutheran Church, has been in the community of Leitersburg for 190 years.  In the Declaration of Principles, the founders stated:

That it (St. Paul’s) shall be and remain an Evangelical Lutheran Church, wherein the pure and unalloyed Gospel shall be preached and the Holy Sacraments administered accordingly to the teachings of Christ and the Augsburg confession, the contents of which we have in our catechism which we now, in conclusion, place in the cornerstone, that in time to come it may be seen what is the confession of our faith. Should men arise after us who forget their Savior, despise God’s word and sacraments, and will not endure sound doctrine, we take Heaven and Earth as witnesses that we are not to blame but are pure from the blood of all men. We take Heaven and Earth as our witnesses of our attachment to Evangelical Christianity and that its extension is our most ardent desire; that it is our wish that the doctrine of Christ’s atonement may be proclaimed to destitute souls here in this place; that we expect our children and our children’s children never to forsake their church, but to be true to it; that it is our wish that here old and young may be edified, animated, encouraged and prepared for eternity. With such desires and with such prospects we may confidently hope and with Jacob say, “This stone which we have set up as a memorial shall be God’s house, a place where He manifests His presence.”

(the highlighted portion is our vision statement)

Someone once said to me, you (the current congregation) are the answer to the prayers of your founders.  Imagine that.  Did you ever stop to think that you and your congregation could be the answer to prayers spoken almost two hundred years ago?

Whether our congregation is young or old, big or small, if we continue building on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ, it will accomplish God’s purpose.

 

Studying our Heritage

Tomorrow my church, St. Paul’s Free Lutheran in Leitersburg, Md.  is celebrating a birthday–190 years of proclaiming the gospel in our community.  I’m on the anniversary committee and it has been a privilege and eye opener to study our church’s history.

One of our members has updated the church history, another has focused on pictures, and a third on the special memories people had of our congregation. Putting it all together, I was amazed(although I probably shouldn’t have been) to realize that the church has been doing the same thing all these years:  baptizing, confirming, teaching, marrying, burying, proclaiming the gospel and serving others.  The Church is the body of Christ, and like Christ is the same “yesterday, today and forever.”  Also like Christ, the church through it’s service has touched innumerable people in many ways.

Our church’s mission statement is taken from the Founding Documents of 1826:

“It is our wish that here old and young will be edified, animated, encouraged and prepared for eternity.”

The verse selected by the anniversary committee is also an important one to study.  It’s from 1 Corinthians 3:11:

“For no one can lay any foundation other than that which is already laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

Studying the past can help us plan for the future.  St. Paul’s is built on a firm foundation.  It’s a good idea to reflect upon that.  If you would like to learn more about us, our history, our anniversary and what we are doing today, I hope you will click on “St. Paul’s” to visit our website.

 

 

 

Praying for our Church

St. Paul’s Free Lutheran Church in Leitersburg will be 190 years old in August.  I am on the committee to celebrate the anniversary and we wanted to start things off on the right foot — prayer.  Remember in Leslie’s recent blog she said, Pray first?  So we are having a prayer vigil tomorrow, and many members signed up to pray for 1/2 hour, specifically for St. Paul’s.  I’m hoping our fellow bloggers and readers will join us.

As part of the Prayer Vigil, we asked members to write their prayers for our church and we printed a booklet.  I’d like to include just a few:

Here at St. Paul’s where many Pilgrims before have been guided, comforted and informed to strengthen their faith and trust in God by His inspired word, I pray His truth will continue in the generations to follow that they too will seek and learn to love the Scriptures.  May our hearts be guided and nurtured by the Holy Spirit as we meditate and grow spiritually and reflect His character in our daily lives.  May our people be conscious of the truth, holiness and sovereignty of God, our Creator, our salvation and hope.  I pray we help one another experience a relationship with Christ and our joy in Him will endure forever so we can all be standing proud with His Church at His glorious return.  Our church is here to prepare us for that great day when we will live in His presence.  Thanks be to God for His Church!

Amen.

My prayer for our church is that we can find a unity to work as one toward His glory.  That we always remember the sacrifice He made for us and that we are unworthy.  That we stand and affirm that the pure word of the Lord is preached and that the sacraments are given as taught in His word.  That we accept all newcomers with the heart of Jesus, see them with the eyes of Jesus and serve with the hands of Jesus.  That we show the love and forgiveness to others as we ask for from Him.  And last but definitely not least–that we all come to Christ as His humble family in one body, and with the reverence He so rightly deserves.

Amen.

My Prayer for St. Paul’s

Spiritual Continuity & Purity

More Forgiveness Among Members

Better Stewardship

Spiritual Guidance for Our Leaders

Marathoners Instead of Sprinters

Continue Our Music Ministry

Trusting God in Future Endeavors

Continued Good Fellowship with Christ Community Church

Increased Search by Members for Biblical Wisdom

To Learn From Those Who Died in the Faith

Amen

What are your prayers for your church?  Are they similar to ours?  Will you pray with us for St. Paul’s tomorrow?  Please let us know.

Prepared for Eternity

Our church, St. Paul’s Free Lutheran in Leitersburg is almost 190 years old.  The church’s vision statement is taken from the founding documents:

“It is our wish that here old and young will be edified, animated, encouraged and prepared for eternity.”

Living a Christian life, being edified, animated and encouraged through the scriptures, the sacraments, and the fellowship of our sisters and brothers in Christ is what prepares us for eternal life with God.

Here is what Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life has to say:

People ask me, “What is the purpose of life?” And I respond, “In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity.” We were made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in heaven. One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body–but not the end of me. I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act, the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity.

What is your church’s vision statement?  Does it tell you how to prepare for eternity?