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One Nation Under God

Historical revisionists have long tried to deny or obscure the fact that our nation was founded upon belief in God. Because our founding fathers are obviously nolong er with us, the debate will probably continue to rage about exactly where they stood faith-wise. Were they committed Christians or simply theists (those who believe in God or a god) or deists (those who believe God created the world but takes no part in its functioning)? Consider these quotes:

George Washington, first president. “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” “Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair; the rest is in the hands of God.”

William Penn, founder of the Province of Pennsylvania. “If you are not governed by God, you will be ruled by tyrants.”

Samuel Adams, one of our founding fathers. “The rights of the Colonists as Christians...may be best understood by reading and carefully studying the institution of the great Lawgiver and Head of the Christian Church, which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament.”

Benjamin Franklin, founding father, nicknamed “the First American” for his early campaigning for colonial unity. “Here is my creed. I believe in one God, the creator of the Universe. That he governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshipped.”

John Adams, helped draft the Declaration of Independence, second president. “The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity, and humanity.”

Thomas Jefferson, third president. “The Bible is the cornerstone of liberty. Students’ perusal of the sacred volume will make us better citizens.”

James Madison, fourth president. “We’ve staked the whole future of American civilization not on the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon thecapacity of each and all of us...to govern ourselves according to the commandments of God.”
Pastor Heggen

The Heart of the Home

“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’ Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” – Proverbs 31:10-12, 28-30.

What can we say about the woman various translations describe as an excellent wife (ESV), a capable wife (NRSV), a good wife (RSV), a wife of noble character (NIV), a virtuous woman (KJV)?

First, the Christian wife and mother provides the setting for family life. Her husband trusts in her – a word which means confidence and pride as well as a lack of suspicion. The rest of Prov. 31 describes her as actively involved in the world – business, buying and selling, community service, providing clothing for her family, and teaching. The Christian wife and mother is available to her children. So much of a child’s sense of worth and security comes from being able to share with someone important – often Mom, the triumphs and defeats, the joys and pains of the day. The “excellent wife” is also available to her husband. I suppose there might be some debate about how many husbands would think first of sexuality, but hopefully there’s no debate about the importance of the wife being available to talk to her husband about the various needs and challenges that life throws our way in families.

Second, the Christian wife and mother is sensitive to relationships. The husband described in Prov. 31 is strong. He is known as he sits with the elders at the city gates. But she is the linchpin of the home. She holds it together despite the hectic pace that led one mother to observe, “Having children is like having a bowling alley installed in your brain.” With her love and encouragement, she is supportive of her husband so he can fulfill his duties. She is supportive of her children – not to the point of being what today is called “a helicopter parent,” hovering over her children and running interference in every possible conflict with friends, teachers, and even employers, but by providing a foundation of love, care, and understanding.

Third, the Christian wife and mother – along with her husband – is a mediator of God’s wisdom. She and her husband lead by example. An old saying reminds us that “a child can’t be what he or she hasn’t seen.” As parents share God’s wisdom, they need to show the way. Children learn what they see in their parents. They learn to respect and honor others, they learn to speak and to live with integrity when they see those virtues demonstrated at home.

Martin Luther wrote, “Let the wife make her husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.”

Pastor Heggen.

Jesus, The Good Shepherd by Pastor Heggen

Today is Good Shepherd Sunday. One of the most popular images of Jesus is that of the Good Shepherd. Even for city folks who probably have never seen a live shepherd and have probably never seen a live sheep outside of a petting zoo, the image of Jesus as our Good Shepherd continues to be one of our most comforting mental pictures.

As a child growing up, one of my favorite pictures on the wall of my room was a picture of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. It wasn’t magnificent art. In fact, it was rather plain. My grandpa found the picture, put it in a frame, and gave it to me. That in itself made the picture very special. The picture was that of a lone sheep that had obviously strayed from the flock. The sheep was stuck on a rocky ledge. It was in a very precarious spot. But Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is seen leaning down over that rocky ledge, about to rescue the sheep.

I identified with that lone sheep – too often straying, finding myself on a spiritual “rocky ledge,” but one for whom my Good Shepherd had searched, even into rocky terrain, one for whom my Good Shepherd was reaching down to save.

Over the years, of course, I learned more about sheep and shepherds. Sheep have been described as “regrettably stupid animals.” They are prone to go, heads down, from one tuft of grass to another, until they finally raise their heads and realize that they are completely lost. So we, like sheep, are prone to go, with our spiritual heads down, from one thing that commands our attention to another, until we finally look up and realize that we are completely lost. Like that sheep in my favorite picture, the more we try to straighten things out on our own, the more likely we are to fall even farther down that “rocky ledge.”
But Jesus, the Good Shepherd, comes seeking us. He finds us and, in His grace and mercy, leans down over that “rocky ledge” to rescue us. The shepherd in Jesus’ day, when he found a stray sheep, would pick it up in his arms and carry it back to the safety of the flock. The shepherd knew the sheep was probably too weak, maybe even wounded, to follow him, so he picked the sheep up and carried it. In our spiritual weakness, wounded as we are by life’s events, it would do no good for the Good Shepherd to berate us for wandering, conk us on the head, and say, “Come with me.” The Good Shepherd cares for us – carries us – in His love and mercy. He carries us back to the flock where He nourishes us with His Word of Scripture, with His true Body and Blood in the Eucharist.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want” (Ps. 23:1- NIV).  
Pastor Heggen. 

Surrounded By The Word of God

I wake up in the morning and there is a Bible on the nightstand and a scripture verse on my dresser. There is a verse taped to the mirror in the bathroom. There is a framed verse in the living room. The doxology is hanging near the kitchen. I get to the office and there is yet another scripture verse in front of me. I don't know if any of you do this in your home or, to be a little more honest, have a spouse who does this for you around the home but this is a wonderful thing. The verses that currently surround me are:

"But He gives more grace..." James 4:6

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23

"The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore." Psalm121:8

"Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;" Joel 2:13

And periodically they change to different verses. It is so important today that we not only are in the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures, reading and digesting what our God has to teach us but also surrounding ourselves with the Word of God and surround yourself with other believers as we do when we gather for worship. I probably don't need to tell you that the world wants nothing to do with God. Satan is alive and well working overtime to keep people out of the Word of God. He tries to convince us that we don't need God, we can do it ourselves much better. And as convincing as the devil is at times he is wrong! This is nothing new, it is the same old story that happened in the beginning with Adam and Eve.

And then we hear the familiar words that are spoken during the season of Easter, "Alleluia! Christ is risen!" and we all respond, "He is risen indeed, Alleluia! The devil did not defeat us. Jesus won the victory for us over sin, death, and the power of the devil! That is the Good News. Surround yourself in that Good News! 

Pastor Hahn

A Devotion Based on Isaiah 55: 1-9

What's a defibrillator, you ask?

You've probably seen on television, or in the movies, scenes where a doctor applies paddles to the chest of a person who appears to be dead. These "paddles" carry electrical current to the heart. The medical team hopes that the shock will jolt the patient
back to life. The doctor shouts, "Clear!" Then the paddles are placed on the body, and the body twitches to life immediately. If the person is nonresponsive, the paddles are applied again.

Sometimes, the problem is simply an irregular heartbeat. Sometimes, there appears to be no heartbeat at all.

In any case, this church that I was visiting was learning how to use one! What a great idea! But I thought to myself, "I think there are many churches which, sadly,are experiencing irregular heartbeats, i.e., they're notbeating rhythmically. And some churches don't appear to have a heartbeat at all! What the church needs is a defibrillator! Something to wake them up! Something that will shock them back to life!"

The defibrillator we need is the Bible, God's word.

Sometimes, we need a couple of good paddles to the heart to wake us up! In the Scripture reading from Isaiah listed above,
the Lord has a remedy.

God advises us to "listen" (v. 3) to God "so that you may live."

We are also told to "seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near" (v. 6).

We must "forsake" the things we do that are bad (v. 7).

When we do these things, our hearts will come to life.

The life of the church will be revitalized. God will "have mercy" and "abundantly pardon" us (v. 7).

Devotion by Timothy Merirll
Published in the HomeTouch Quarterly, February 28,2016 issue


The Bog - By Pastor Hahn

Having had a Biology Major at the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire there were many interesting classes that I had the opportunity to enjoy. One of the most memorable was a summer coarse studying Bryophytes and Lichens (or should I say moss). There are well over 200 different varieties of moss right here in Minnesota and Wisconsin, of which I had about 150 in my personal collection at one point. Anyway back to the class. It was a week-long excursion in northern Wisconsin at one of the University of Wisconsin Biology Camp locations. Each day consisted of going out and collecting different mosses and then coming back to the lab and identifying what specific moss it was. Dr. Foot, our instructor was our guide and helper throughout the week. It was on the second day that my respect for Dr. Foot increased greatly. Our class was on a little outing to collect a rare type of moss that can be found only on a peat bog. If you know anything about peat bogs the peat we are talking about is itself a type of moss called sphagnum. Peat grows very rapidly and in large clusters, sometimes so large it can become an island unto itself. That's where we were that morning, on an island of peat moss, on the shore of a little lake. This particular bog even had trees growing on it. As we stepped foot on the bog Dr. Foot gave us some instruction that sounded rather foolish. While on the bog we were to walk with our arms fully outstretched. Dr. Foot modeled how we were to walk and it made him look rather foolish. He kept reminding us to keep our arms outstretched as we went along. Slowly the class started to lower their arms because they didn't want to look so foolish. I lowered my arms because I didn't want to look foolish and no one else was doing it, except Dr. Foot. That is until it happened. It happened to me. I was the one who found a hole in the moss that, within a matter of seconds, had engulfed me up to my shoulders. Somehow my arms went out to my side and I was able to stop myself from slipping down over my head. As I was in that hole I felt helpless, I couldn't move. The moss was so tight around me all I could think about was how glad that there were other people around to help. It took several people and about 30 minutes to pull me out. And here's the funny thing. everyone was walking from that moment on with their arms straight out to their sides and no one looked foolish anymore. Our Epistle Reading for this Sunday is taken from Philippians 3 starting at verse 17 where it begins with Paul saying, "Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have for us." Paul is sharing these words with his brothers in Philippi, the church in Philippi. He was encouraging them not to stray away from the cross of Christ. Oh, you may look a little strange or different as you walk in Christ, but it is for your good and for the good of the Gospel. Don't give up when it seems that everyone else has abandoned Christ. Keep doing what I am doing because I am imitating Christ. Christ is our joy, our crown, our Savior. These words encouraged the church in Philippi as they continued in their faith. As we come to Christ Lutheran Church to worship we are surrounded by brothers and sisters in Christ. We can see each other as people who are imitators of Christ, as example to each other. This keeps us strong in the faith. And whenever things start to look foolish, even when they are instructions from His Word, we can encourage one another as we stand firm as the body of Christ.

Here be Dragons Based on Matthew 6:25-27

"Here Be Dragons"—the words appear on two old globes. Pictures of strange beasts, such as dragons, were sometimes drawn on unexplored areas of maps. These were decorations and warnings. It made those places seem mysterious and dangerous. It's easy to imagine seeing a dragon on a map and being concerned. We fear what we don't know. We imagine the worst possible stuff happening. If someone made a map of your town, what would it look like? What if they drew scary pictures in every place you've never yet visited? What if they wrote "Here Be Wild Dogs," "Here Be Bullies," or "Here Be Bees"? Would you visit those places and find out the truth?

God doesn't want us to imagine the worst that can happen or to live in fear. Though we don't know what will happen tomorrow, God does. He wants the best possible futures for us. It's not God's way to ambush us with threats and mysterious warnings. He tells the truth straight up. If something is dangerous, like our sin, He tells us. But He doesn't stop there. Instead of just a "Beware of Sin" sign, He sends Jesus to take away our sins. He tells us to turn to Him for help. Where He is, God's love will always be ready to take us in.

Jonathan Schkade 
Taken from My Devotions, April 8, 2016, Page 49
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