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Tuesday, 19 October 2021 12:11

October 2021 Newsletter

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An excerpt from Pastor Parsons' article Justified by Faith

 

Justified by Faith

28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. (Romans 3:28)

 

            At the end of this month, we’re going to celebrate a great and blessed milestone for the Christian Church. Five hundred and four years ago, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, which we celebrate as the official start of the Lutheran Reformation. His theses focused on correcting a major issue within the church. The church was teaching that you could literally buy your way into heaven by purchasing indulgences.

            Even before that time, the thought of earning your way into heaven has been an issue for the Church nearly from the beginning. If we just do what

Tuesday, 19 October 2021 12:06

September 2021 Newsletter

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An excerpt from Pastor Parsons' article From the Ethiopian to Philip

 

From the Ethiopian to Philip

26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian t eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”

30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. 31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?”  38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. (Acts 8:26-31, 35-39)

 

            When I was young, my family didn’t worship regularly. But there were a few times when we went to church for a few months, even a year, before pulling away again. When we worshiped, we had the chance to hear God’s Word, and it was then that God began a hunger and thirst in me for his Word.

            Fast-forward a few years to my college years: I was a Junior in college and was reading through my Bible on my own. Like many others, I tried to just read straight through it like any other book. It was confusing. It was difficult. And it often didn’t make sense.

            After a few months, I walked into the church that was half a block from my apartment . . . and I met my Philip. God had just called a new

Tuesday, 19 October 2021 11:56

August 2021 Newsletter

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An excerpt of Pastor Parsons' article Remember Your Leaders:

 

Remember Your Leaders

 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 17 Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you. 18 Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way. (Hebrews 13:7-8, 17-18)

            This portion of Scripture recently served as one of our readings in a service. It was a service focused on having good, Godly leaders over God’s flock. There was a strong emphasis that the shepherds God uses to tend his flock live and teach according to his will. This, coupled with sharing the true message of Scripture, is an amazing blessing, but can also be taxing on us pastors and other leaders in the church.

            Of course, we must speak the Law as needed, but praise God, we also must speak the Gospel! And not only that, we must live according to it, too! As leaders, we are

Tuesday, 19 October 2021 11:52

July 2021 Newsletter

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Excerpt from Pastor Parsons' article Raise Them Up

 

Raise Them Up

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old, they will not turn from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

            In the last two months, we’ve celebrated Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, rejoicing in the blessings God has given through these parents. The passage above shows one of the greatest blessings God has tasked all parents with: to raise their children up in the way of the Lord.

            This is a calling, even an expectation, that God has extended to every parent. As they, themselves, have come to know they Lord, now they have the opportunity to help their children do the same. Proverbs 22 shows that it is important to start children off in God’s Word right from the beginning.

            Praise God! Many parents answer this call by bringing their children to the baptismal font. There they receive the blessing of being adopted into the family of God through the pouring on of water and of the Spirit. How marvelous! Since Baptism can create faith in any heart, it’s so important that it be available to anyone.

            This is why we often baptize non-members, adult and children alike. Doing so brings them the same forgiveness our members receive through this sacrament. But whenever I do a baptism,

Tuesday, 01 June 2021 13:44

June 2021 Newsletter

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Excerpt from Pastor Parsons' article: Made Alive in Faith

 

Made Alive in Faith

37 The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”

                                                                                                            (Ezekiel 37:1-14)

 

            Ezekiel was called to prophesy to the nation of Israel while they were in captivity under Babylon. It would soon be time for their restoration, when God would bring them out of captivity and return them to their land. For some, that’s all they hoped for. But that wasn’t God’s main objective. God wanted the people to look forward to a completely different restoration, one that would bring new and everlasting live, a return to faith.

            God used nations like Assyria and Babylon to stress the dire urgency to return to faith. Israel, as a nation, had abandoned the LORD for idols of all kinds. Some were of their own making and others were the gods of surrounding nations. In either case, the people no longer worshiped the one true God. As an earthly consequence to their actions, God gave them over to their enemies so that they could see that none of these false gods could save them.

            But he did so with the intent of delivering them himself. This vision of the dry bones coming back to life was to declare their deliverance from Babylon, but even more importantly, from the devil! Think of the imagery here. God used something that had absolutely no life, something that was completely dead. He took something that had no hope of ever again knowing life, and he gave to them what only he could, new life!

            This was the state of Israel’s faith

Tuesday, 18 May 2021 16:36

May 2021 Newsletter

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Excerpt from Pastor Parsons' articleInfo about the New Hymnal

 

In lieu of a devotion this month, Pastor Parsons has decided to share some information about the new hymnal, Christian Worship.

 

CHRISTIAN WORSHIP: Out with the Old and In with the New?

            First off, the answer is “No.” We are not thinking along the lines of “Out with the Old and In with the New.” Some have been curious, wondering if or how we’ll be incorporating the new hymnal at Divine Savior when it is available for use. I hope this article helps to answer those questions. A portion of the info is set up in Question-and-Answer format below. This may seem quite extensive. So, please take your time as you read through this to fully digest the information. Otherwise, it may seem overwhelming to take in so much at once.

 

Q: Are we switching over completely to the new hymnal?

A: No. We hope to make use of some parts of the new hymnal and incorporate them into worship, but we do not plan to replace the current, red hymnals at this time.

 

Q: How will the new hymnal be incorporated into worship?

A: Pastor will work with the organists and the Senior Choir to introduce some the new materials (such as new hymns, new settings for old hymns, new settings for the Psalms, or new forms of liturgy) into our regular worship from time-to-time. This will allow the congregation to “get a feel” for the new hymnal and how it may benefit our worship together before having to commit fully to switching over to the new hymnal.

 

Q: What are the benefits of the new hymnal in comparison

Tuesday, 18 May 2021 16:29

April 2021 Newsletter

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Excerpt from Pastor Parsons' article: It's Time for Our "Coming Out"

 

It’s Time for Our “Coming Out”

             Do you know how pretty much every day of the year is “Nation _______ Day”? They’re not official holiday, per se, but simply a way to bring people together, like National Chocolate Day, National Cousins Day, National Help-a-Stranger Day, or National Puppy Day, etc. Well, I recently learned of another one. Apparently, according to the all-knowing Wikipedia, this was first celebrated in 1988, but this was the first I had heard of it.

            I saw online that October 11th is called National Coming Out Day. It’s “an annual LGBT awareness day to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, pansexual, and more people to ‘come out of the closet.’” For those struggling with or unsure of their sexuality, this is intended to be a day when they have extra support from the LGBT community to embrace such a lifestyle and to be confident enough in it to let the world know.

            Well, it got me thinking: What if we had our own “coming out” day? What if Christians “came out” concerning their faith as confidently as some do concerning their sin? Jesus says that we have something worth sharing with the world, and that we shouldn’t hide it away. He said, 14“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

            As Christians, we have a message that brings true, everlasting life. We have the only message that can create eternal peace. Jesus died for our sins. Jesus died for their sins. Jesus died for all sins. It’s easy to say that. But is it easy to defend it? Even as a pastor, I find it difficult at times to stand firm and proclaim the greatness of our God. Have you ever found it hard to overcome the fear of damaging an earthly relationship so that you can share your faith? I have.

            But we are not called to know the Gospel, then sit on it. No, we’re called to shine the light of our faith out into the world before others, that they may see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven! Can we support one another by encouraging each other to “come out” as believers in the one and only Savior from sin? Can we find the strength to overcome our fears and defend our love of God, even when others very strongly stand against it? Can we be like those who so confidently profess pride in what God calls sin, but rather show the same confidence in God’s promises and his Word?

            I think it’s time that we had our “Coming Out” Day, too! But let’s not just celebrate our faith and the willingness to share it only one day a year! Our faith isn’t based on one day a year. It’s not based solely on the celebration of Christmas Day or even the day of Easter. It’s based on the events of those days every single day of our lives.

            I pray that you can rejoice every day in all that God has done for you. I pray that you can let your light shine every day so that others will turn and praise God when they see and hear how he has won forgiveness for them. I pray that you and I “come out” as faithful Christians so often that others realize that it’s not just part of who we are. It IS who we are. We are children of God. Amen

                                                                                    In Christian love,

                                                                               Pastor Wolf B. Parsons

Tuesday, 18 May 2021 16:19

March 2021 Newsletter

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Excerpt from Pastor Parsons' article: Check In with God before You Check In with the World

 

Check in with God before You Check in with The World

 

31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

(Matthew 6:31-34)

 

            Take a moment and think about your morning routine. What do you do when you wake up? In your regular habits, how long do you make it before you check in to see what’s happening in the world? For those of you with smart phones and ipads, the world is right there, at your fingertips. Do you log into social media to see what new things happened since you turned off your phone only a few short hours before? Do you open your news or weather app to see what you will face today?

            I know, I know. Some of you don’t have a smart phone and

Tuesday, 18 May 2021 16:10

February 2021 Newsletter

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Excerpt from Pastor Parsons' article: Fades or Endures Forever

 

Fades or Endure Forever


6 A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?” “All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. 7 The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”
(Isaiah 40:6-8)


           
Will you fade? Or will you endure forever? Isaiah shares with us God’s desired answer and how we can reach his goal for us. He also shows us how we will never reach that end. It is God’s will that we endure forever, that we reap all the benefits of redemption and forgiveness that Jesus has earned for us.
            In order to receive eternal life, our focus must never be on things that will fade away, that will come to an end. Such things cannot provide salvation. Notice the kinds of things God said will fade away. “All people are like grass . . . [which] withers because the breath of the LORD blows on them.” We cannot hope to reach heaven if we look to ourselves for salvation. Nothing we do will last because every-thing we do and everything we are is infected with sin. And sin brings only death.


           But what if we are faithful? God addresses

Monday, 04 January 2021 15:34

January 2021 Newsletter

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Excerpt from Pastor Parsons' article: "I'm 'Scused!"

 

“I’m ‘Scused!”

 

            Today, we’re going to talk about forgiveness. I’ve been thinking about it every time my two-year-old burps or toots. Odd thought? Well, every time she says, “Excuse me,” and we start to tell her, “You’re excused,” she jumps right in with, “I’m ‘scused!” She’s that sure that we are going to excuse her that she just knows and can blurt out, “I’m ‘scused!” without any doubt.

            That’s what forgiveness is like, when God forgives us. We talk about it all the time, how God forgave us through Jesus. We recount it so matter-of-factly that it seems there’s no doubt. But we aren’t really as confident as a two-year-old in this belief. When we ask God,

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