What does forgiveness look like?

Pentecost 15 – Genesis 50:15-21

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Bring me some burning coals

Pentecost 13 – Romans 12:9-21

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Summer reading

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First Lutheran Church  Plainville, Kansas

Peace Lutheran Church   Natoma, Kansas

September, 2017

I just finished reading Giving It All Away and Getting It all Back Again by David Green, founder of Hobby Lobby.  In the book, he recounts his humble upbringing, largely in poverty and how it shaped him for the life he lives today as chairman of a multi-billion dollar company.

But that is hardly the thesis of the book; the central idea focuses on how Green and his wife, now in their 70’s, are planning their legacy for what happens when they are gone.  As the head of a multi-billion dollar company, you would think that legacy would focus entirely on how to divide the money between their 3 children, 10 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

But that is hardly the concern of Green, instead, his focus is entirely on how to pass his faith onto his children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren and all future generations.  Will they get some money?  I’m sure they will; but what good is it, when you do not have faith?

The basis of this thought process is St. Matthew 6:19-21: store up treasures in heaven, not on earth where moth and rust destroy, and thieves break in and steal.  Verse 21 is particularly meaningful: Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Which ironically ties in with another book I just finished reading: License to Pawn: Deals, Steals, and My Life at Gold & Silver by Rick Harrison of Pawn Stars fame.  In this book, Harrison reveals the secret to life in the business of buying and selling items, and inadvertently, the secret to living life on this earth: no matter what it is that is presented to you, it’s just stuff.  That’s right, it’s just stuff.  You lived your whole life up to this point without it, and the odds are pretty good that you can live the rest of your life without it just as well.

Money and riches and stuff may be fun to have on earth, but what happens when your life is over?  You can’t take it with you.  We can bury you with it, but you still won’t be able to use it.  All those collections and trophies and clothes and whatever else you have spread around your house, when you die, what good will any of it do you?

But what does matter?  Your faith; your baptism; your standing before God.

            Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

And not just your heart and your treasure, but those of others as well.  If your treasure is found in earthly possessions, and you spend your whole life chasing after them, there is nothing more important to you than that treasure; then your children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren will have the same mindset.  They will chase after their own treasures; they will pass on the same legacy to their own children.

The funny thing about stuff, is that the further down the line it gets from you, the less value it actually holds to the owner.  You may really treasure that old trophy on the shelf, and your children may value it as well; but in two or three generations, that trophy will be viewed as a dust collector, and end up on a yard sale.  Each generation values its own things.

So where is your treasure?  Is it found in property or in possessions or in social standing?  Or is your treasure stored up in heaven?  Will your treasure remain here on earth when you die, or will you enter into that treasure in the joys of paradise with Christ for eternity?

What if the treasure that you pass down is not a dust collector, but the living and active faith that is not just some old thing great-grandma had, but is personally held and cherished by each person who comes into contact with it?

That treasure is faith, a treasure which pays its dividends many times over in Paradise.

God Bless!  Pastor Schmidt

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Who do you say that I am?

Pentecost 12 – St. Matthew 16:13-20

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The best thing that could happen on Monday

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On Monday, August 21, 2017, much of America will experience a Solar Eclipse, with a large section of the county experiencing a total eclipse, or near total eclipse.

As with all things, there is much speculation that this eclipse marks the end of the world; and as with all other things, authorities are encouraging everyone to exercise caution in anticipation of the crowds that will descend on areas, and for animals and children who will likely be confused by the sudden darkness midday; and there are round the clock warnings that whatever you do, don’t look at the eclipse.

Part of me questions the arrival of large crowds and the projected insanity expected for what will amount to a 5 minute show.  But I could be wrong about that.

If nothing else, Monday’s eclipse will provide a brief break from the insanity of what now surrounds us.  My Facebook feed is somehow worse than it was during the election, with friends bickering over elected officials and the removal or the preservation of statues; not to mention the typical drama that occurs on a daily basis.

Which is why I am hoping for something on Monday, and you should too.  Pray that the eclipse would knock out internet service for all Americans for at least a week.  Honestly, we could all use the break.

Give us all a week to go to our rooms and think about what we have done.  Give us a week to cool off from the round the clock arguing that dominates so much our lives.  Give us a week to regain some focus on the meaning of life.  Give us a week to not hear the echo chamber we each live in, which is only interrupted by those who dare have a contrary opinion.

Give each of us a week to screw our heads back on and look back on what we have become as individuals and as a nation, and ask ourselves: don’t we have better things to do?

What if after 5 minutes of not looking at the sun, we were all given a week of not looking at our phones or tablets or computers, or anything else that transmits social media or email or a comment section?

You say it can’t happen?  Consider that the last eclipse was in 1979, before all this technology was available; before social media; before the world went mad.  All there was, was Walter Cronkite describing the events, and then wishing everyone a good night.

We can at least hope, can’t we?

Because if we are honest about it, we could all use the break.

It’s the best thing that could happen to America on Monday.

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A desolate place

Pentecost 9 – St. Matthew 14:13-22

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A time to plant.

First Lutheran Church   Plainville, Kansas

Peace Lutheran Church  Natoma, Kansas

August, 2017

If you look at a map of the state of Kansas, and on that map you put a pin everywhere there is an LCMS church, a few things would stand out to you.

One is that there are a lot of LCMS churches in the state of Kansas, over 160 of them in fact.  Another thing you would notice is that some towns have several congregations.  And finally, you would notice that some significant towns and areas do not have LCMS churches.

It is that last one that we will be focusing on in this newsletter.  Many years ago, there was a gentlemen’s agreement between the LCMS and the ALC that they would not plant churches in the same community.  Ergo, if a town already had an LCMS church, the ALC would not plant a congregation there, and vice versa.  At the time, this was generally a fair practice as the two were fairly similar in doctrine and practice and were even in fellowship for a brief time.

Since then, the ALC has become the ELCA and no longer bears a similar doctrine and practice as the LCMS.  The gentlemen’s agreement no longer holds.  What does this mean?  It means those living in the old ALC communities are not being properly served by faithful congregations and pastors.

In some cases, there is not much that can be done.  The communities are small and cannot support a congregation, and many are close enough to an LCMS congregation that the people can be cared for properly.  In other cases, there is room a potential congregation.

One such case, is Concordia, Kansas.  Concordia is a larger community in north-central Kansas.  Concordia is an old ALC town that has never had an LCMS congregation.  The closest LCMS churches are Downs to the west, Salina to the south, and Palmer and Linn to the east, and Nebraska to the north.  Without looking at a map, you can already tell that is a HUGE area; the closest LCMS churches are all over an hour away.

What does this mean?  It means the fields are ripe for harvest!  Recently, a handful of LCMS families have moved to that area, and have expressed a desire to remain LCMS and be served by LCMS pastors, with the hope of planting a congregation.

Planting a congregation is no small task.  On the first Sunday in June, an afternoon Bible study began with a rotation of 4 LCMS pastors; a Facebook page has been established and a newsletter is in the works.  Some benchmarks have been set for when to begin holding worship services, first monthly, and then weekly.

Perhaps you are asking why couldn’t these families just drive elsewhere on Sunday morning?  Why go through the work of planting a congregation?  Valid questions indeed, and while the faithful and devout might do so, what about others in the community?  Churches are not just planted for the convenience of a few, but so that many might hear the Gospel.  Through the work of the Holy Spirit, the hope is that many might hear the Gospel and believe.

At least for now, our role is limited in this process.  If you know of someone in Concordia who might benefit from the planting of an LCMS congregation, please do not hesitate to tell me so that they can be contacted.  And please pray for this exciting opportunity.  Pray that the Holy Spirit would stir the hearts of many to come and hear the Gospel; pray for patience among those attending the Bible studies, that though numbers may be small for a time, the Lord is watching over them; and pray that the Lord would continue to open up new opportunities for sharing the Good News of Christ crucified and risen for all people.

God Bless!

Pastor Schmidt

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