Monday, July 27, 2009

Worship Helps--Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

Lessons for Proper 13 (Lutheran Service Book)
Exodus 16:2–15 ~ God provided quail and manna for the Israelites in the wilderness.
Ephesians 4:1–16 ~ Christ nourishes His body, the Church as He builds us up in the unity of the Spirit.
John 6:22–35 ~ Jesus is the Bread of Life and far more valuable than bread which molds and spoils.

GATHERING THE TEXTS: “Food for Eternal Life”
God sent manna and quail to keep the Israelites alive in the wilderness. That was food for the desert. Years later in Galilee, the crowd that had enjoyed Jesus’ bread in the late afternoon learned that God had provided an even greater food for heaven. Jesus is the Bread for Eternal Life. Just as the manna fed the whole company of the Israelites and the bread strengthened the crowd on the hillside, so Jesus nourishes the body of believers in the bond of peace and keeps us united to serve one another with His gifts of love in the unity of the Spirit.

PRAYER BEFORE THE SERVICE: Merciful Father, thank You for giving me faith in Jesus, Your own Son. May my life be enriched and nourished for eternity by the Bread from Heaven, so that I may not struggle desperately for the things I need each day, but accept them gratefully from Your generous hand -- and as generously, share them with others. Amen.

STEWARDSHIP THOUGHT: God provided food for the daily needs of His people, but the bread that was stashed away as a hedge against God’s bounty, spoiled the next day. Why do we work so hard to keep the things that God provides, instead of sharing the one thing that keeps us all in God’s love – Jesus, the Bread of Life?

OFFERING PRAYER: Bread from Heaven, much of what we have today Only serves our wants and quickly wastes away. Bless these earthly gifts to serve You mightily, Feeding hungry hearts with Life eternally. Amen.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

This Week at Mt. Olive

Good evening, fellow redeemed!

This past Friday, my family and I went fishing. I had established the goal of going fishing twice each week. I think this was the first week we had hit it. Tuesday night, we endured wind, surfers, and snagged lines. No “keepers” of any kind were caught. Friday would be different! We left the house and things went downhill from there. None of the bait shacks on the island had live shrimp. In Port Aransas, where we were going anyway, we finally bought some of the elusive critters.

It was then that the usual fun started. Getting lines ready and in the water, followed by waiting. The only thing caught in the first hour or so was…a couple of blue crabs. Then came the bright idea: let’s catch crabs! Kathy went to the local grocery, bringing back some over-aged chicken and string. No bites on either kind of line. We moved to a different location. Still nothing, except the kids had a ball watching the dolphins.

In my return to get the van, I noticed a family using a different kind of crabbing implement. Let’s get some of these – that was my reasoning. Back to the store. Bring the lines out, refit them, and get them back in the water. Still nothing (hermit crabs don’t count). Back to the pier, where we had started. Crab and fish for another hour. Nothing except a sunburn. It was a fun trip, but, in the end, fruitless.

That brings to mind some words from Hebrews.
He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself (7:27).

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption (9:11-12).

But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself (9:26b).

And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (10:10).

What’s huge in all of these verse is the phrase “once for all”! The true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, did not dally in looking at different ways of saving sinners. He didn’t decide which methods would work for which people. Instead, “once for all,” according to the Father’s plan of salvation, the Son became flesh, willingly offering Himself to the death of the cross – once for all – to suffer the punishment of sin. The Spirit, working through message of the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus, brings sinners to faith in their Lord Jesus to the glory of their heavenly Father.

Will we go back to fishing and crabbing? Undoubtedly! As a matter of fact, I go back with the dream that, somewhere in that water, there’s a “big ‘un” waiting to latch onto my hook!

Each day, you and I live with the assurance of the “once for all” sacrifice of our Lord Jesus, who offered Himself, sprinkling His holy and precious blood for sacrifice, and entering into the Holy of Holies of His Father, pleading the case for sinners like you and me.

Kathy, the kids, and I will be out of town this week. If you have a special need, please contact your elder (look in the directory) or the Church Office. One of the area pastors will be covering in the event of an emergency.

God bless!

Prayer Concerns This Week:
Those who travel, that their journeys be safe and their homecomings joyful
The defenseless – the unborn, the aged, the dying – that God would move His people to protect them
Those who mourn the loss of loved ones, especially those who mourn the deaths of their children
Those serving in our armed forces – that our Lord would protect them by His might and enable them to do their assigned duties faithfully
The families of those who are serving in our armed forces – that our Lord would strengthen them in their waiting
Pastor Eckert, our circuit counselor, and the pastors in our circuit, that God would keep them faithful to their callings and enable them to preach His word with power

This Week at Mt. Olive:
Monday, July 27
Zumba Aerobics, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, 29 JUL
Deadline for the August Olive Branch, 12 p.m.

Zumba Aerobics, 6:30 p.m.

The Lutheran Blog Directory---We're There!

Many, many thanks to The Lutheran Blog Directory ( listing our blog in their directory! There is a link for their site in "Links of Interest" on our site. I encourage everyone to take a look at that site for a broad, broad view of all things Lutheran in the blogging world. They do a great job!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

St. James the Elder, July 25th

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:35-45

One of the great consolations I have as I read Holy Scripture is the profound “human-ness” of it. The people of God, even the great heroes of the Faith, are presented as they truly are–blemishes and all.
The scene before us looks, for all the world, like a scene from one of those “Reality-Based” TV shows such as Survivor or The Real World. The pettiness and self-serving attitudes of those called by the Lord to lead his Church is shocking-- but also distressingly familiar.
For example, does the prayer of John and his brother James sound like something you’ve heard before? It did to me! To my shame, it is a prayer I pray all too often–“Lord, give me what I want!”
What about the attitude of the other ten disciples? Have we ever been angry at other’s attempts to “climb the corporate ladder” using us as rungs? Have we ever dismissed the success of others–certain that they had an unfair advantage over us? Have we ever wished we had thought of it first?
Much too often our hearts reveal a deep-seated selfishness that shows up in our relationship with others and even in our relationship with God. We are at the center of the cosmos and even God exists to serve our needs. This, of course, is nothing other than the sin of idolatry–the first sin, and the one that is at the root of all others.
How different is the attitude and approach of Jesus. Though he was God in the flesh, he laid aside his divine glory to take the form of a servant–the Creator in the form of his creatures–to offer up the ultimate service by giving his life as a ransom for we poor self-centered sinners.
His sacrificial service has set us free from our bondage to selfishness and sin! He has shown us that the way to true greatness is found in being a servant to others.
On the Feast Day of St. James, the Elder we thank God for his undeserved mercy towards us that rescued us from our selfishness and sinfulness and we pray that He would make us into his faithful servants.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Weekly Poll--A New Feature

Each week or so I will try to get together a poll having to do with all things Lutheran. This week's poll has to do with one of the Blue Ribbon Task Force's (BRTFSSG) considerations: a name change for the Missouri Synod. I hope that you will take time to register your opinion. Also, if you have suggestions about future polls, I would be glad to consider them.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

St. Mary Magdalene--July 22

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don't know where they have put him!"…but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, "Woman, why are you crying?" "They have taken my Lord away," she said, "and I don't know where they have put him." At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. "Woman," he said, "why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?" Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him." Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher). Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, `I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' " Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!" And she told them that he had said these things to her.

St. Mary Magdelene is one of the most misunderstood people in the Bible. What we do know for sure is this: Mary was from the town of Magdala on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. At one point in her life she had been delivered from seven demons. She financially supported the work of Jesus and the Twelve from her own means. She was a witness to the death and resurrection of Jesus and carried that news to the Twelve.
The truth about her life is not as salacious, and so, perhaps, not as interesting as we thought, but nevertheless, significant.

St. Mary Magdelene is a wonderful example of the power of Jesus Christ to transform human lives--even lives that seem broken beyond repair. While we don’t know how the demonic influence manifested itself in Mary’s life, we do know that Satan and his angels were no match for Jesus. Rescued from the power of Satan by Jesus, Mary became His devoted disciple and a valued co-worker in the Kingdom.

She courageously remained with her Lord at his crucifixion (when the disciples hid in fear!) and she was blessed to have been one of the first witnesses to Christ’s resurrection which she boldly proclaimed to others without fear of ridicule.
There is much we can learn from her life and put into practice in our own life: the faith to believe that with God all things are possible—the willingness to share our wealth for the sake of the Gospel—the courage to boldly witness to the Good News of Christ crucified and risen from the dead.

Let us pray: Almighty God, whose blessed Son restored Mary Magdalene to health of body and of mind, and called her to be a witness of his resurrection: Mercifully grant that by your grace we may be healed from all our infirmities and know you in the power of his unending life; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Pastor and Melissa Strimple and girls

Please make a point of welcoming Pastor Strimple and his family to the Coastal Bend!

Installation of Rev. Russell Strimple

The Rev. Russell Strimple was installed as pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Coprus Christi on Sunday. The Rev. Chuck Houska served as liturgist. The Rev. Randy Ledbetter served as preacher. The Rev. Allan Eckert served as presiding minister. And the brethren from the circuit participated in the laying on of hands. The folks at Trinity provided wonderful refreshments after the service. May God richly bless Pr. Strimple's ministry and the mission of that congregation!

Seminarian Christopher Brynestad will be ordained into the Holy Ministry on August 9, 2009 at Messiah Lutheran Church in Calallen (time to be announced). You are cordially invited to attend and take part in this special occasion.
Your servant in Christ,

Worship Helps for this Sunday--Pr. Franke

The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost Proper 12 – July 26, 2009

Lessons for Proper 12 (Lutheran Service Book)
Genesis 9:8–17 ~ God gave Noah His rainbow promise that flood waters will not cut us off from His love.
Ephesians 3:14–21 ~ St. Paul described the dimensions of Christ’s love which encompasses His people.
Mark 6:45–56 ~ After private prayer time, Jesus walked across a windy sea to rescue frustrated disciples.

GATHERING THE TEXTS: “Signs of God’s Love”
God’s love is so great – “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ!” – that He can only give us signs of its magnitude! To a world population of eight people devastated by flood waters, God gave His sign in the clouds – a rainbow promise to sustain humanity over the centuries whenever we experience disastrous floods. To a small boat load of fishers of men, frustrated by contrary winds and rough seas, God gave the sign of His loving presence as Jesus stepped into the boat and stilled the storm. God fills us with the measure of Christ’s fulness so we may be signs of His love in this world where humanity is drowning in suffering and sin.

PRAYER BEFORE THE SERVICE: God of the hopeful rainbow, You cover dark clouds with bright color to promise Your eternal love in our world. As I have come to know Your love in Christ, let me spread the spectrum of Your light among sad and discouraged neighbors who may beswamped by contrary winds in their lives. Amen.

STEWARDSHIP THOUGHT: Jesus’ love spills over into our lives like leftovers at an impromptu picnic and quiets our wave tossed lives when we are threatened with overwhelming fears. We are bearers of that love which cannot be understood, but can only be known in His promise and shared in our lives.

OFFERING PRAYER: When baskets fill to overflowing with broken bread and fish
And waves of fear give way to hope and courage now to dare,
We thank You for Your presence, Lord, surpassing every wish,
And bring our gifts to honor You in lives of love we share Amen.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

This Week at Mt. Olive--Pr. Jennings

Good evening, fellow redeemed!

Vacation Bible School week is a mix of efforts and emotions. I always look at the week as a time, in my words, organized chaos, thought I know that it'll be mostly chaos with only a few drops of organized involved. I get to see new faces, teach the Bible stories to children who don't know Jesus, and have a good time. I know it's also a week in which I'll be dog-tired every night and family time will be curtailed. But, when the end of the week rolls around and I can breathe, I also feel a little sadness that our time of sharing has come to an end.

To the many, many volunteers who worked with VBS this year, I praise God for your presence and your efforts. Every year I say that this was undoubtedly the best, and this year was no different. For all of the saints at Mt. Olive, give thanks to God through our Lord Jesus for the people who served this past week.

Sunday School, one of the key ministries at Mt. Olive, is rapidly approaching the regular term of Sunday School classes. Please prayerfully consider serving as part of Sunday School teaching team. The goal of the Sunday School is to have eight teams of three teachers, or, at the minimum, eight teams of two teachers. If you are so moved, please call Kim Waddle, the Sunday School superintendent, or drop us a line at the Church Office.

Also this week, the first of many school districts will begin classes. Please keep the students and teachers in these districts in your prayers in the weeks to come.

Mt. Olive saw the birth of a future VBS student, Benjamin Harris, son of Heather and Michael Harris.

This afternoon, our sister congregation Trinity installed their new pastor, the Rev. Russell Strimple. Pastor Strimple is a recent graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis (hurray!). He and his family are originally from Houston - Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Houston, to be exact. Please keep Pastor Strimple, his family, and the saints at Trinity in your prayers.

In Christ,
Pr. Jennings

Prayer List for this Week:
Edwin Rodriguez, a member of Mt. Olive stationed in North Carolina and currently deployed to Afghanistan
Other members of Mt. Olive currently serving on active duty: Michael Baker (Iraq), Richard Rhode (North Carolina)
Mt. Olive's outreach efforts, following up on Vacation Bible School
Pastor Strimple and the saints at Trinity
Pastor Eckert, our circuit counselor

This Week at Mt. Olive:
Monday, July 20:
Zumba Aerobics, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, July 22
Zumba Aerobics, 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

An Open Letter Upon Retirement--Rev. Gil Franke

On June 25 of this year, I observed the 37th year since my ordination. I thank God for every one of them! They have been filled with joys innumerable and enriched by rewarding relationships with God’s people in three different congregations and circuits of the Texas District, LC-MS!

Years ago, an aunt, speaking of her uncle, Rev. A. G. Wiederaenders, who began his ministry at St. John Lutheran, Robstown, told me, “Gilbert, your great-uncle Art was blessed in that he was always loved and supported by his congregations.” I thank God that I have been blessed in the same way!

That, of course, makes it somewhat harder to take this step of retirement. I don’t want to disappoint people who have been so loving and supportive. Beth and I have been planning this for a couple of years. We didn’t know if we would be able to retire at the same time or if I would have to wait a year until I turn 65. Especially with the economic conditions being what they are, we thought long and hard about this timetable, but it seems like the right thing to do at this time.
I pray that no one will consider my retirement as a personal rejection or an abdication of ministry. People have been asking, what do you plan to do? That’s a fair question; let me give you a brief answer. We are going to do some traveling, by land and by sea! Somewhere along the way we hope to find a place that calls out to us, “This is home!”

I will be available to do pulpit fills when pastors are on vacation and fill vacancies on a temporary basis. I want to try my hand at some serious writing: poetry, hymns, devotions, special services, maybe even some short stories! I’ll let you all know when I publish something!!! Beth is looking forward to working in some reading programs with a local library wherever we settle.

Putting things in perspective, when we came to St. Paul, Bishop, after 15 ½ years at Bethlehem, Wm Penn, I thought we had stayed longer than we should have. Often it is difficult for a new pastor to follow a long pastorate. Members grow up with one style of ministry and sometimes become inflexible and stubborn. I know that none of you ever would be like that! I don’t want our relationship to be a problem to your new pastor. When there are baptisms, weddings, and funerals in your families, I want you to seek out the support, counsel, and comfort of your new pastor. Those are the times when you will find the greatest measure of his love and strength. I want you to get to know him well and to trust and love him. He will be God’s messenger in your midst. Welcome him, encourage him, support him, love him.
Thank you for that same attitude which you shared with Beth and me over these sixteen years. It has been invaluable and deeply appreciated. With my retirement, I hand back to you the ministry of our Lord that you entrusted to me. Take it up and carry it forward. Care for each other and for your neighbors; reach out to those who are left out, and reach in to those who are in trouble. Be forgiving of one another; do not be caught up in factions and party spirit.

Then when the Lord of the Church brings a new pastor into your midst, let him receive a share in your common task. Listen to him as he speaks God’s word of conviction and of comfort. Hear him proclaim God’s grace and forgiveness. Receive him as he brings God’s grace to bear on your lives in the holy Sacraments. Work alongside him in service to each other and to your community. Continue to use and encourage those leadership skills that develop during this vacancy. Share the love of Christ as you have received it by the grace of God, so that others may be drawn close to God, and their hearts turned to Christ.
In Christian love, your retiring pastor,

Monday, July 13, 2009

News and Announcements for Circuit 27

I want to remind you that our circuit forum to elect lay and pastoral delegates to next summer's synodical convention will be held on October 3, 2009 at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Corpus Christi. We will start promptly at 10:00 A.M. Before that meeting you and your congregation will need to select an elector to vote in the elections. You will also need to nominate a lay person who is willing to serve as the circuit's lay delegate to the convention. The name of this potential delegate along with a brief biographical sketch must be submitted to me before that day. You and your congregation will receive a mailing from me this week outlining the format for the election.

This year's winkel schedule is still being worked out but I can tell you that during our doctrinal section we will be looking at Pieper's Dogmatics on "The Church." During the practical section we will be looking at topics from Walther's Pastoral Theology. All of you should have Pieper's Dogmatics but some of you may not have Walther's Pastoral Theology. It can be purchased from CTS's bookstore or from: Lutheran News, Inc. 3277 Boeff Lutheran Road New Haven , MO 63068.

I also want to remind you that the Rev. Russell Strimple will be installed as pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Corpus Christi this Sunday at 3:00. This is a big day in his life and the life of that congregation and I hope that you will be there. Please bring your red stole.

And last, but certainly not least, this last Sunday Pr. Gil Franke announced his retirement. His last Sunday conducting services will September 13, 2009. Pr. Franke has faithfully served the Church for many, many years and will continue to serve by filling vacancies and pulpit supplies but especially by writing for the church-- for which he is particularly well-qualified. May God richly bless he and Beth during their retirement years with every good gift of body and soul!

Your servant in Christ

Worship Resources and Helps--Pr. Franke

The Seventh Sunday after Pentecost Proper11 – July 19, 2009

PRAYER BEFORE THE SERVICE: Lord Jesus, you invited your disciples to come along with you to a quiet place to rest for a time. In the middle of my busy world and hectic schedule, be with me so that I may know the hand of my gentle Shepherd leading me each moment of every day. Amen.

GATHERING THE TEXTS: Alone -- With God Sometimes we feel so all alone, boxed in by busy-ness and frustrated by feelings we cannot share with friends or family. Sometimes the people who should be guiding us destroy our trust and scatter our faith. But God has raised up a righteous King, Jesus, our Good Shepherd, who by his death has broken down the wall of sin that separated us from God. By his resurrection we are confident of our place in God's family. Even when we are alone God is with us.

STEWARDSHIP THOUGHT: When Jesus saw the crowd far from their homes, He told the disciples, “Give them something to eat.” Although they had limited resources, Jesus blessed their stewardship so there was plenty to spare. God has blessed us with resources and willing hearts so that we are able to meet the needs of today’s crowd with food for body and soul.

OFFERING PRAYER: Lord, we had wandered far away, like sheep without a shepherd; But You have called us back to stay, and feed us well with Your Word. May all these gifts we bring today find willing use to prosper Your holy flock in every way, in spirit and in number. Amen.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

This Week at Mt. Olive--Pr. Kevin Jennings

Good evening, fellow redeemed!

Kathy and I were blessed this past week to attend Higher Things' Sola 2009 gathering in San Antonio, as we accompanied Jessica and Stephanie Peterson. Some really good sectionals were attended (Ask Jessica, Stephanie or Kathy about the Twilight series). It was a welcome opportunity to participate in liturgical worship each day. And, by the way, my lesson on Having an Informed Faith in a Spongebob World was well received.

This week is, of course, one of my favorite weeks of ministry: Vacation Bible School! In my twelve years as a pastor, this week has traditionally been the highlight of all twelve summers! This week is a great opportunity not only to be exhausted at the end of each day, but especially to proclaim God's rich grace in Jesus Christ. This evening, a large army of volunteers invaded Mt. Olive, transforming the spaces we know so well into Crocodile Dock.

Of course, VBS this week is in need of volunteers. But, if volunteering won't fit into your schedule, VBS will always accept cookies and punch!

And, VBS will end next Sunday as we sing many of the VBS songs and follow a couple of the themes.

Drop by this week in the mornings and see what I call "Organized Chaos to Proclaim the Gospel"!

In your prayers this week, please include:
The many volunteers - crew leaders, station leaders, helpers, refreshment servers, and the like - participating in VBS
The Church Council and Board of Elders as they meet
Students who will begin their next term of school next week
Students, young and not so young, who are preparing to attend colleges in the fall
The Sunday School Convocation leaders who are preparing their lessons for Sunday morning
The mission staff at Macau who will begin a two-week VBS camp this week
The men and women of our armed forces who are serving away from home, as well as their families
The many people in our midst who are traveling this week.

In Christ,

This Week at Mt. Olive:
Monday, 13 JUL
VBS, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Church Council, 7 p.m.

Tuesday, 14 JUL
VBS, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Elders Meeting, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, 15 JUL
VBS, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Thursday, 16 JUL
VBS, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
National Youth Gathering meeting, 5:30 p.m.
Guitar Worship rehearsal, 6:30 p.m.

Friday, 17 JUL
VBS, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Sunday, 19 JUL
VBS Worship at 8 and 10:30 a.m.
Sunday School Convocation and Bible Class, 9:15 a.m.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Worship Helps For This Sunday--Rev. Gil Franke

STEWARDSHIP THOUGHT: To understand how well we are doing in turning our lives over to God, we only need to look at how we use the material goods with which God has blessed us. When we get defensive about our stewardship, we are probably not standing up well to the plumb line of God’s will.

OFFERING PRAYER: God of might and mercy, we rejoice in Your redeeming love and unfathomable grace; but we don’t always recognize Your total claim upon our lives. As we release our will for Your guidance, give us insight into the use of our time and treasure for Your kingdom. Amen.

Where Luther Stood--A Poem by Rev. Gil Franke

Where Luther Stood
(from the Castle Church, Wittenberg)

Through this doorway Luther walked,
and on these very stones he stepped!
This is where he sang and talked,
and here’s his tomb where Katie wept.

From this pulpit Luther preached:
“God’s Word alone reveals His will.”
To our day this truth has reached,
and in these halls it echoes still.

Luther learned these truths from Paul:
“In Christ alone God’s love is known.”
“All who hear the Gospel call
Receive God’s gifts through faith alone.”

Here was Luther bold to say
“By grace alone God counts us good.”
Why is it so hard today
To take a stand where Luther stood?

– August 2008

Monday, July 6, 2009

This Week at Mt. Olive-Corpus Christi

Good morning, fellow redeemed!

Devotional Thoughts
This past weekend, our nation celebrated her 233rd birthday. Barbecues were, well, barbecued. Celebrations were celebrated. My family and I braved the traffic to watch the fireworks. As we watched, Kathy and I both were left wondering: Is this all? The fireworks display seemed a bit shorter. At heart, I'm a patriot. I served for nine years, active and reserve, in our nation's armed forces. I get choked up singing the national anthem. I'm one riveted person when I hear the stories of Fort McHenry, San Jacinto, Gettysburg, D-Day, Iwo Jima, Chosin Reservoir, and the like. I live in the City of Man. But, my true citizenship is not in the City of Man; it's in the City of God. By God's grace in Jesus Christ, all true believers in Christ are citizens of His City. As we look for God's Kingdom to be realized at Jesus' return, as we long for the day when our Lord takes us to Himself, we sojourn in the City of Man. And, according to God's direction through St. Paul and St. Peter, we keep this nation in our prayers, praying for our leaders, praying for the ways of justice and peace.

Over the past few weeks, celebrity deaths have been numerous: Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Billy Mays, Karl Malden, Fred Travalena, Steve McNair. Causes of death ranged from lung cancer (Travalena) to heart disease (Mays), to being really old (Malden - 97), to gunshot (McNair), to "the jury's still out" (Jackson). Reading the reports of some fans and observers, some of these were among the most devastating deaths in history. But, to me, they're all reminders: We are a fallen race living in a fallen world. One fo the lines I remember from a Christmas program long distant tells the truth of all who are descendants of Adam and Eve: And, ever since, we, too, all sin. No matter our station in life, no matter how famous, rich, or physically able, according to St. Paul in Romans 6, the wages of our disobedience is death. That's only the first half of that verse, though. Paul goes on to say, "But the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ." In Christ's death on the cross and His resurrection, there is life for sinners. For all who believe in Christ, there is life - life now in the forgiveness of sins, and life forever when our Lord returns in glory.

Every year, Mt. Olive hosts what I consider to be the best Vacation Bible School in our area. It's five days of controlled chaos, but it's fun, and it's a great opportunity to proclaim Jesus Christ. Will you be tired at the end of the week? Undoubtedly! But, what a great "tired" it will be - proclaiming Christ, meeting new faces, and, did I mention cookies.

With VBS, there are needs:
-Cookies, Rice Krispy treats, and punch are needed each day for the snack
-Volunteers are needed (crew leaders, station helpers, and the like). Please see Kathy for more information.

Saturday, July 11, at 10 a.m., there will be a training meeting for crew leaders, station leaders, helpers, and the like.

Also, Saturday, July 11, at 2 p.m., is a decoration making party!

Sunday, July 12, at 2 p.m., is the decorating party: decorations and sets will be hung, taped, etc., equipment will be tested, and so on.

Monday, July 13, VBS begins!

Mt. Olive also has a second great ministry: Sunday School! Slots are still open to host and teach the Sunday School convocations this summer. Check the clipboard on the narthex table to find your date! This another great opportunity to proclaim Jesus Christ!

I will be out of the office Tuesday through Friday of this week. If there is an emergency, please call your elder, who will, in turn, get in touch with me.

God bless!
Pastor Kevin Jennings

This Week at Mt. Olive (and a little beyond)
Monday, 6:30 p.m. Zumba Aerobics

Tuesday - Friday: Sola! youth gathering in San Antonio

Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. Zumba Aerobics

Saturday, 10 a.m. VBS training meeting

Saturday, 2 p.m. Decoration making party begins

Sunday, 8 & 10:30 a.m. Worship with Holy Communion

Sunday, 9:15 a.m. Sunday School and Bible Class

Sunday, 2 p.m. Decoration party begins

Monday morning: VBS begins!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth of July!

July 4th

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery…For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
Galatians 5:1,13

Each July Fourth we have a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the freedom that we have as American citizens and thank God for His providential care of our nation. It is also an opportunity to remind ourselves that with those rights, come responsibilities: to pay our taxes; to give honor to those in authority over us; to vote and serve on juries and in the military when called by our nation to do so; and to pray for our nation and its leaders.

God’s Word also reminds us that the greatest freedom that we enjoy comes not from the Bill of Rights but from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. By His holy life and by His shed blood on the cross we have been set from the curse of the Law, from the burden of our sins, and from the fear of death. Christ has truly set us free!

But in the same way as in our nation, so it is in the Kingdom of God, that with freedom, come responsibilities. Our sinful flesh wants to turn the Gospel into a license for sin. But it is not! It is freedom for service. We have been set free from sin and death so that we can lovingly serve God and one another without fear.
I pray that this July Fourth as you celebrate the freedoms we have as Americans you would also remember your responsibilities as citizens and that you would take time to thank God for the Gospel freedom we enjoy as Christians and re-commit yourself to the loving service of God and one another!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Circuit 27 will have our circuit caucus on Saturday, October 3. We will elect circuit, pastoral and lay delegates and alternates for the synodical convention in 2010. Before the caucus your congregation will need to choose a lay elector to vote in the caucus along with the called pastor of the congregation. Also, your congregation has the right to nominate a layperson to stand for election as the lay delegate/alternate. The name of this person and a brief biographical sketch must be submitted to me BEFORE the circuit caucus.
Your servant in Christ,