Jesus is still King.

THE_QUEST_Desktop.png

Psalm 145:13 - Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; your rule is for all generations.  The LORD is faithful in all his words and gracious in all his actions. 

Did your guy get elected last night?  What about your gal?  Did the person you voted for and the person you prayed about get their seat?

Did someone else get their seat instead?  Did someone get elected for whom you did not vote?

It doesn't matter.  Jesus is still king.  It's naive to think that the "right" or the "wrong" elected official has more power and more authority than our Jesus who has ascended and now sits at God's right hand.  

Jesus rules the nations, even our elections.  And he does it all for our good.  That's true no matter who is elected. Jesus is going to rule our city, our state, our nation and even our world for his good.  His kingdom and his rule is an everlasting kingdom and it extends through all generations.

And now we pray that our King would pour out his Spirit on those elected to give them wisdom.  Now we pray that God would bless their rule in whatever way he sees fit so that we may live in peace and security; most importantly, that we might continue to preach the gospel (cf. 2 Timothy 2:1-2).

PRAYER: Lord God, you rule all things.  You put officials in their seats and fill their offices with the men and women you want there.  We have voted and you have worked through us to elect officials in our city, state, and nation.  We thank you that you have put them in their positions.  We thank you for them; they are a gift to us from you. Lord God, we pray that you would bless these newly elected leaders with wisdom. Bless their rule and leadership that we might be blessed by them.  Grant us peace and security through them so that we might continue to preach the gospel.

Give Thanks in All Circumstances

Give_Thanks.jpg

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

It’s easy to be thankful this time of year, isn’t it?  With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we, along with our entire nation, will give thanks for the many blessings we have.  At Christmas we will take time to give thanks to God for his gift of a Savior.  All of the holidays coming in the next couple of months will bring gifts and time with family and friends, which we will also be very thankful for.  It’s easy to be thankful at times like these.

But did you catch what the verse above from Thessalonians says about giving thanks?  “Give thanks in all circumstances.”  That not only sounds tough to do, it sounds impossible, doesn’t it?  How can we give thanks in all circumstances?  When my loved one is on their death bed, give thanks?  When I am stuck in a wheelchair, give thanks?  When I have to go to a job every day that I don’t really like, give thanks?  When my neighborhood is dangerous to live in, give thanks?  When I am on the brink of financial disaster, give thanks?

The answer is, “Yes!”  Yes, in all circumstances, give thanks.  Everything that happens in this life, even the bad stuff, happens to you to bring you closer to your God.  God uses everything in this life to refine and purify your faith.  He uses everything in this life to focus your thoughts and worries away from your problems and your own solutions and to look to him for strength and answers.  He uses everything in this life to lead you to the cross to see his love for you on full display, that cross of Jesus where we receive true comfort true peace, and true joy.

It’s easy to give thanks when things are going well for you.  It’s much harder to do in times of difficulty.  But don’t forget the love that God has for you personally.  Don’t forget what God has done for you in Christ.  Don’t forget what he has promised you now, and eternally.

You have reason to give thanks in every circumstance of life, because your God has taken care of your eternal need, and everything in this life happens in order to get you there.

Give thanks.  Not just in this coming holiday season, but in all circumstances.  This is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

 

Are You Thankful for Discipline

Those of you have been blessed to raise teenagers, did you ever have them come to you and say, “Thank you for grounding me for the week and not letting me use the car or hang out with my friends and make me be in by 7pm on weekends.  I really appreciate it Mom and Dad, it really helped me to learn something about life and about myself.”  No? Never happened?  Discipline is often not very well accepted by our children, is it? 

The word “discipline” often has a negative connotation, doesn’t it?  It’s often equated with punishment that can be cold and harsh.  But the biblical meaning of discipline really is to provide guidance for responsible living, to offer correction and training for good.  You can see the word “disciple” in the word discipline, can’t you? There is an obvious correlation between these two words.  Christian parents discipline in order to make disciples of Christ, who walk in his ways, who want to obey him and honor him in their life. And God disciplines us too for the same reasons.

The writer to the Hebrews speaks positively of the discipline that the Lord allows, that it’s really in his love that he does so. He encourages us: 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:7-11)

This Thanksgiving you have many things to be thankful for. But what about discipline?  Are you thankful for the trouble, the suffering, the pain that you have to endure in this life?  We all have them, don’t we?  What is it for you?  Maybe a struggle with depression.  Parenting a child with emotional, physical or mental challenges.  Chronic illness.  Continual financial struggles.  The loss of a spouse or parent or child.  You can probably identify a number of struggles, hardships, and pain that God allows in your life that are meant to humble you and test you.  And no one really enjoys the discipline, right?  We live in a world that is all about quick fixes:  losing 30 pounds in 30 days, quick relief from pain with a pill, muscles of steel by exercising five minutes a day.  We like quick and easy.  But often that’s not the way God works.  Very often we don’t see the results of these trials in our life until a long time afterwards, and maybe never this side of heaven.  And these experiences, that at least while we are enduring them, are experiences that we’re not necessarily always grateful and appreciative of, are we?   

But the truth is, in his grace and wisdom, God disciplines us for our good, because he loves us.  Through that discipline he trains us and through it brings us closer to him and leads us to rely on him rather than on ourselves.  He disciplines us because he wants us to let go of everything else an look to him and know through it he desires to produce a harvest of righteousness.

This Thanksgiving holiday, I pray that you are truly thankful for everything – even for all the difficulties and struggles he allows in your life. Thank and praise your God who uses everything in this life to bring you closer to him and to keep you focused on your heavenly home.  

 

Pastor Aaron Bublitz

 

What is My Purpose in Life?

Purpose.png

“What is my purpose in life?” is a question that gets replayed over and again at every stage of life. College students rack their brains trying to determine their purpose in life as all sorts of philosophies are spread out before them like food at a restaurant buffet. Empty nesters restart the quest when their children have moved out. As their health and abilities decline, the elderly often wonder what purpose they still have. 

Have you found your purpose in life?  It is a question that is always demanding an answer.  It is always there haunting us, confusing us, bewildering us.  For many it is a painful question because the answer has eluded them. 

The reason why so many of us struggle to find purpose in our lives is because we keep looking to the wrong person for the solution.  While it seems to make sense to look inwardly for our answer, we won’t find anything more than a mirage, a grasping at the wind.

 Jesus helps us look beyond ourselves to find our purpose.  You see, our purpose in life is a combination of “out of this world living” and “living our lives for others.”  Jesus states our purpose for us in a book of the Bible called Matthew.  In Matthew 22:37 and following, Jesus unveils that purpose.  He removes the smoke and mirrors.  He states our purpose with crystal clarity.  He says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”  He then goes on to say, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  With these words Jesus directs us to live for God and for others! 

Do you want contentment in your life?  Then discover or rediscover God by getting to know him and love him personally through the good news of the Bible.  Be strengthened through his means of grace, found only in his word of life (the Bible) and his sacraments of Baptism and Communion.  Safeguard your soul as it yearns for the one who loves you more than you can imagine (Jesus).  Use your mind to seek out ways to serve God and to serve others.  Living with God’s purpose as your reason for living is living a life of amazing adventure!

 

 

 

IMMOVABLE

immovable-Series-title-518x294.jpg

Psalm 46:7 – The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

 

We were watching a movie with our kids the other day.  It was a movie where the girl left the guy with the kid.  The marriage had fallen apart and they were totally broke.  So she left.  Our kids looked at Ruth and I and said, “You won’t do that!”  They were absolutely confident of that.  But there is perhaps a part of them that sees their friends in single parent homes and wonders, “Will this happen to me too?  Will mom or dad have to move out?  Will mom and dad get a divorce?”  They’re afraid that they’ll get abandoned.

 

Think back to those moments as a kid when you were most afraid.  Perhaps you had been wandering in Sears and suddenly you looked up and around and couldn’t see mom or dad.  “Did they leave? I’m all alone.”  In the past our older kids would walk to the corner and we would pick them up there.  Every once in a while I would be a few minutes late and I would get a frantic phone call, “Dad, are you coming!?!”  Deep down we all have this fear of being left alone, of being abandoned.

 

And it doesn’t change as we age.  I’ve spent enough time visiting people in the hospital, in the nursing home, in jails, in their homes to know that people hate being alone. You can tell in the conversation.  They’re just glad to have someone to talk to.  They’re just glad to know someone is there.  They’re just glad to have someone in their room who cares about them and wants to spend time with them.  For the next hour or two, or as long as you can give them, they are glad for your presence and your company.

 

But you don’t have to be in a hospital or nursing home to feel all alone.  When we go through a hardship or trouble in our lives we often feel like we’re going through it all alone.  It feels like there is no one who understands, like there is no one who cares.  Sometimes there are even people right there with you, but you feel as if you’re going through this all by yourself.  When trouble comes – no matter what that trouble is – we can feel at that time more than any other that we are all by ourselves.  We just hate to be alone.

 

But do you see who and what God is?  He is immovable.  He is always present, right there for you, with you.  God doesn’t move.  He is always present with you in whatever you are going through. Look: God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. – Psalm 46:5-7

 

One of the places where this is very clear is in Daniel 3.  Crack open your Bible and read Daniel 3.  Even in their greatest danger, even when they were thrown into a fiery furnace God was right there with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  He was right there, immovable, present with them.  Read it!  It’s an awesome account.  And let it assure you, that no matter what trouble or hardship you are going through, God is with you.  God is… unshakable… immoveable.  Wherever you are and whenever you need him, God is right there! (By the way, we’re starting a sermon series on Daniel at the end of October.  Stay tuned!)

 

PRAYER:

Lord God, I thank you that you are with me.   I sometimes feel very much alone, isolated and  abandoned even though there are people all around me.  But God, you promise that you are always right there by my side. You promise that even if everyone else leaves, you will not forsake me.  You promise that even if I am abandoned by all people, you will never abandon me in the dark and  difficult moments of my life.  And even if it seems like you have left me, your Word assures me that you haven’t and you won’t abandon me.  Help me to stand on this, your word of promise.  You will not leave me now or ever.  Amen.

 

Pastor Nate Bourman

 

One Africa Team - Visits Mt. Lebanon on 8/26/18

36688173_714151112339150_5281437733892390912_n.jpg

Africa Mission Festival

On August 26, 2018 Missionary John Roebke will be at Mt. Lebanon Lutheran to share his experiences of serving as the Director of Communications for One Africa Team. Missionary Roebke and his wife Nancy have been living in Malawi since June 2017 and currently reside in the city of Blantyre. 

Missionary Roebke works closely with the Publications committee of the Lutheran Church of Central Africa – Malawi Synod to produce and distribute books and tracts. In addition, he is responsible for coordinating publications efforts across Africa with the WELS Multi-Language Publications Committee (MLP). This past summer, MLP underwrote a Translators Workshop that was held in Lusaka, Zambia. 24 participants from 8 countries spent two weeks gleaning valuable insights from Dr. Ernst R. Wendland into the art of communicating across cultural and linguistic barriers. 

As a member of One Africa Team, Missionary Roebke oversees the social media and communications ministry for WELS missions in Africa. He manages a missions blog called “WELS Friends of Africa.” Visit www.oneafricateam.com to sign up for weekly updates. You can also follow WELS Africa missions on Facebook at “One Africa Team.”

P_20171225_112045_vHDR_Auto.jpg

Both John and Nancy Roebke are graduates of Fox Valley Lutheran HS (’86). The Roebkes served as WELS missionaries in Eastern Europe from 1994-2003. They have also served congregations in Wisconsin and Alabama, and have two daughters who live in the United States. 

Right Place, Right Time.

IMG_0289.JPG

From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‭‭Acts‬ ‭17:26-27‬ ‭NIV.‬‬‬‬

A look back at our lives, at the path that they’ve taken, at the events that have happened, helps us to see God’s plan.  He’s been at work to bring us to this place and this time.

As I’ve had the opportunity to visit with many of the members of the Mount, I generally ask this question: What brought you to the Mount?  The answers are different, but also the same. Some people will say it was a boy or a girl, a husband or a wife that brought me.  Others will say that their parents brought them.  Some will say that the school was a draw.  Others will say that circumstances in life drove them to their knees and the Mount was right here, right at the corner of 60th and Hampton, right in the neighborhood where they lived.

All of the answers are different, but, a look back, also reveals that they are the same.  It was God who put those people in your life to connect you to Jesus and to the Mount.  It was God who put you in this community and sent those events into your life.  It was God who drew you to himself through people.  It was God who called you to be his own through the Gospel.

That’s what Paul wanted the people of Athens to know.  They were unbelieving pagans who were seeking a god; they just didn’t know who the true God was yet (but Paul was about to tell them!).  Paul wanted them to know that the true God had arranged everything in their lives, the times of their lives and the places where they would live SO THAT they would seek him and find him.

That is precisely what God has done for you in your life. He has put you in the right place at the right time so that you’d hear this message about Jesus, so that you’d receive the adoption to sonship, so that you’d hear his call and believe. He put people in your life so that they could tell you.  He put events in your life to draw you to himself.  He put you in the right place at the right time to save you.

Now think.  God has done the same thing for every other person in this world.  Paul was talking to the unbelievers around him and saying, “God put you in the right place and the right time so that you’d seek him and find him though he isn’t far away at all.”  That’s also true for the people who live around The Mount in our Hampton Heights community.  That’s true for the people who live around you in your communities.  That’s even true for the people you interact with at stores.  It happened to me just the other day. I had to get my phone replaced and the woman helping me noticed my e-mail (pastor.bourman@gmail.com) and asked, “Where are you a pastor?”  And the conversation went from there.  God put me at the right place and the right time in her life and her husband’s life SO THAT they’d seek out and find him (and it took a broken phone to get me there).

God has put The Mount the right place and the right time.  He has planted our church in the Hampton Heights community to serve the people here, to share the gospel with the people here with the gospel.  He has planted our school here in this community so that we might transform families and raise up disciples, heirs and leaders right here at this time and in this place.  He has put us here at the right time and in the right place for them and their salvation.  We are The Mount and that’s why we’re here: to transform this community and the families of it with the gospel of Jesus.

And God has put you at the right time and in the right place.  He has put you in your neighborhood with your specifics neighbors at this time in history to impact them with the love of Jesus and his Gospel.  He will give you daily interactions which are not accidental, but are arranged by him so that you can share the Gospel with those whom you meet.

God is always at work and he will use us at just the right time in just the right place.  How will he use you today?

Pastor Nate Bourman

Real Wealth

IMG_0288.PNG

Jesus told this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop . . . he said, ' . . . I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”  (Luke 12:16-21).

“I need money!”

“How much money do you need?”  

“Lots! Start with one and keep adding zeros till I say, ‘Stop.’ ”

Did you ever have a conversation like this? At times we dream about being very wealthy. What would we do? Quit our jobs? Buy a new car? Travel?  

While it is fun to dream, the reality is that we are richer than most people in the world. Yet we may not feel rich, even though we have almost everything for maintaining a fairly comfortable lifestyle. So why don’t we feel rich?

The main reason is because there’s something wrong with all of us. We have a sinful nature. It likes to twist things around in our minds so we constantly want more. And when we get more, our sinful nature still isn’t satisfied.

Jesus illustrates this in a story about a farmer who had a bumper crop one year. Instead of giving away the surplus to feed the hungry or to proclaim how generous God had been with him, he thought only of himself. He planned to build bigger barns and take life easy. But soon he died. All his accumulated wealth went to someone else, and he had to face God.

Acquiring a lot of wealth in this world is finally worthless without Jesus. He is our real wealth. The Bible says, “Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). Jesus, the eternal Son of God, left heaven and humbled himself to become a man. He bore the punishment of our sin, including the greed that lurks within our sinful nature. The result of his poverty is that we are freely given the riches of forgiveness and life with God.

When we think about our lives, we have so much for which to thank God. Though we may not have all the worldly riches of our dreams, we have real wealth in Jesus!

Pastor Aaron Bublitz