Sunday, November 19, 2017
Sunday, November 12, 2017
Saturday, November 11, 2017
Monday, October 30, 2017
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Sunday, October 15, 2017
Sunday, September 3, 2017
Thursday, August 31, 2017
We can help the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod support our congregations in Texas who are caring for their neighbors . . .
As LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison calls on Lutherans to give generously for Hurricane Harvey recovery, Disaster Response Director Rev. Dr. Ross Johnson talks about spiritual care and walking alongside the Texas district on the long road ahead. For regular updates check www.lcms.org.
Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Sunday, August 27, 2017
Sunday, August 13, 2017
Thursday, August 10, 2017
Monday, July 31, 2017
Saturday, July 29, 2017
Sunday, July 16, 2017
Monday, July 10, 2017
Saturday, July 8, 2017
One of my favorite resources produced by the Church for the Church is the daily devotional Portals of Prayer. In order to place this valuable resource into the hands of our members, we have a standing subscription for both the regular and large-print issues. In fact, each of our homebound members receives a copy of the large-print volume when it comes out each quarter.
I was delighted to learn this week that Concordia Publishing House has now released an app which is available on both the Android and iPhone platforms. You can download the app from either the Google Play or iTunes store for your device. The app enables you to read each day’s devotion right from your smartphone or tablet. The subscription cost is $9.99 per year. If you prefer listening to audio rather than reading, you are in luck, the app has an audio feature in which the prayers, Scripture, and devotion can be read to you. You can also use the app to search the previous 7 years of devotions.
The Android app can be installed on your device by going to https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.cph.portals_of_prayer&pcampaignid=MKT-Other-global-all-co-prtnr-py-PartBadge-Mar2515-1
You can access the iPhone/iPad app by going to https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/portals-of-prayer/id1139206276
If you do not have a smartphone or tablet, but would like to access Portals of Prayer via your computer, please go to https://www.cph.org/portals. You can subscribe to Portals in the Amazon Kindle Store and then read the devotional in your internet browser via the Kindle Cloud Reader. Of course, if you have a Kindle, you can read it on that device as well.
Certainly, we will continue to make the Portals available to you each quarter in its original paper form. It is wonderful to have these digital resources available—particularly as we hope to attract younger readers—but paper is not going away any time soon. I was surprised to learn that this excellent publication has been in print since 1937! What a gift to God’s people!
In Christ Jesus,
Saturday, July 1, 2017
Last Spring, our Church Council approved the video recoding of our Sunday morning services and uploading the videos to the internet. Unfortunately, other parish responsibilities have prevented me from learning how to fully use my video editing software to begin implementing this. In the meantime, Facebook has added live video streaming capabilities which allow people to video something and have it appear live on their Facebook page for others to view. Additionally, those videos are saved to the site and can be viewed later. This has become such a popular medium that I am going to use it for our services rather than Vimeo—which is the site that I was going to use.
Beginning this morning, our worship service will be broadcasted live on the internet via Facebook. This means that members who cannot be present with us can view the service live. Since Facebook stores the videos that are recorded on this platform, people can also go to our site and view them whenever they like. Additionally, these videos are a wonderful outreach tool—in that members can share the videos with others in order to introduce them to our worship services. It is human nature that we feel less apprehensive about trying something new when we know what to expect. Perhaps viewing a service online can be a helpful bridge to their attending worship with us.
We will begin recording following the “sharing of the peace,” discontinue recording during the distribution of the Lord’s Supper, and then continue recording at the Nunc Dimittis. Consequently, no one needs to feel self-conscious when they come to the altar rail since the camera will not be recording. Additionally, we will not be panning the congregation. It is very important to me that we take every precaution to safeguard the sanctity of your worship experience, even as we seek to open this experience to others.
Going forward, we will be placing a smart tv in the nursery so that we can livestream the service down there for parents who would like to take their children to the nursey.
The address of our Facebook video archives is: https://www.facebook.com/stjohnslutheranbeloit/publishing_tools/?section=VIDEOS&sort=created_time_descending
This is very long and so it is more likely that people will find our videos just by visiting our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/stjohnslutheranbeloit. A helpful service of Facebook is that all 132 people who have liked our page will receive a notice of each new video. Facebook users will also have the option to share these videos on their own pages. Hopefully this will work without complications . . . .
In Christ Jesus,
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Saturday, June 24, 2017
Tomorrow our churches will celebrate the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession. On this day in the year 1530, two Christian men who were living out their vocations before God as chancellors in Saxony, Christian Beyer and Gregor Bruc appeared before Charles the Fifth, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, to present him with a document which outlined what they, their preachers, and their people believed, taught, and confessed before God and man. Mr. Beyer read the document to Charles in its entirety, which took more than two hours. This document, called the Augsburg Confession or Augustana because it was presented in Augsburg, clearly explains what Lutherans teach. It is particularly Lutheran, but because it teaches only what the Bible teaches it is substantially Christian. The purpose of this document was to explain how the teachings of Luther and his colleagues were upholding what the Church had always taught on the basis of Scripture and where errors in the Church’s teaching had been corrected in our churches. This confession is divided into 28 articles—21 outlining what the Bible teaches regarding the Christian faith and 7 explaining errors which had crept into the teaching of the Church in the Middle Ages and how our reformers had corrected them.
Of the 28 articles, the chief article is article 4:
 Our churches teach that people cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works.  People are freely justified for Christ’s sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake. By His death, Christ made satisfaction for our sins.  God counts this faith for righteousness in His sight (Romans 3 and 4 [3:21–26; 4:5]). (Paul Timothy McCain. Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions: Second Edition (Kindle Locations 620-624). Concordia Publishing House. Kindle Edition).
As Lutheran Christians gear up to observe the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Lutheran Reformation on October 31, we continue to emphasize that “it’s still all about Jesus.” The sacrifices and work offered by theologians and princes were made in order that Christians would know the precious Gospel of Jesus Christ who died in the place of sinners so that everyone who believes in Him will receive the free gift of everlasting life with God. In observing this special anniversary of the Reformation, we are not celebrating a church split but the recovery of the Gospel among Christians who were without it.
You can read the full text of the Augsburg Confession by going to http://bookofconcord.org/augsburgconfession.php
In Christ Jesus,
Friday, June 23, 2017
Thursday, June 15, 2017
On Tuesday evening, we had the special privilege of spending time with Pastor Micah Wildauer and his lovely family. Pastor Wildauer and his wife, Robin, have four children: Samuel, Elizabeth, David, and Lydia. God has blessed St. John's so that we are able to contribute toward the missionary work of Pastor Wildauer in Dapaong, Togo, Africa. Our Synod’s website describes his work as follows: “Micah teaches courses in Lutheran theology at The Centre Luthérien d’Etudes Théologiques (CLET), or Lutheran Center for Theological Studies, in Dapaong, Togo, West Africa. CLET is the seminary of the Lutheran Church of Togo (ELT). He also teaches some distance learning and continuing education courses throughout Francophone West Africa as needed. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he coordinates visiting professors to CLET.”
On Tuesday evening, Pastor Wildauer described these activities in detail and also spoke about his family’s experiences in France and Togo. Before they could begin their time in Africa, the Wildauer’s needed to learn French - which is the primary language spoken in Togo. They completed intensive French language studies over several months in France before moving to Togo.
It was wonderful to hear Pastor Wildauer speak some French for us and even offer the evening’s benediction in the language in which his teaching is given. The stories which Pastor Wildauer shared about the school and the students were heart-warming and inspiring. I was surprised to learn that many of the students who come to the seminary are from countries in Africa whose cultures differ from that of Togo, to the extent that their families are as alien as the Wildauer’s. I was also surprised to learn that when most of the students arrive at the seminary they are not able to return home until after their three years of instruction is completed. It was delightful to hear about the increased church-planting that is occurring in Africa because of the work of these students. When you make gifts to St. John’s marked “missions” you are helping to equip students who will take the precious Gospel of Jesus Christ to persons who may never have heard anything about it! This past Sunday, our Gospel lesson from Matthew 28 described Jesus’ plan for disciples making disciples. If Pastor Wildauer were only to go around the villages in the area of Togo preaching, he would reach only those people with whom he came into contact, but by his teaching of the men who are coming to him at the seminary he is multiplying the reach of his message by each student who hears his teaching.
Please pray for the Wildauer’s and ask our Father in Heaven that He will not only bless them but also multiply the impact of their work for the sake of the Gospel and the building of His Kingdom!
In Christ Jesus,