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Father Time

I don’t know about you, but this is the time of year when my calendar starts to fill up.  Back-to-school nights, extra-curricular activities, in-services, family visits, meetings, etc. occupy once vacant spaces.

At first, it is a great feeling to have some things on the schedule “to-do”, but the more full the schedule becomes, the more it feels like a gauntlet.  That gauntlet creates tension and stress because you now realize that there is less room for something that really matters; you.

So the calendar becomes our master.  It rules over us.  Each obligation met is simply another obstacle overcome.  It takes the joy out of living.

The calendar, clocks, mobile devices and the clock in our cars become reminders of our slavery.  In a very real sense, time becomes law.  It expects, demands and even condemns (think of being late for dinner!) for failure to fulfill its commandment.

Yet, there are times we wish we had more of it.  More of it with a loved one.  More of it in self-reflection and self-restoration.  More of it spent doing things you and I enjoy.  Vacations just don’t seem long enough.

Eventually, we all run out of it, though.

It is into this slave-driving world dictated by time that the Son of God was born.  think of that.  The God-man was born on a certain date at a certain time.  The Eternal God did this to rescue you from the clutches of ‘Father Time’.

It’s hard to comprehend this, but the God who created time became subject to it.  He was born, went through puberty, and became an adult.  The Scripture says he “grew in wisdom” (Luke 2:52).  His life was cut short by those who executed him on a tree sometime around 30 A.D.  The clock ran out.

After His death, though, Christ Jesus was resurrected.  He was victorious over the grave.  For forty days, Jesus ate with, spoke to, touch and was touched by His disciples.  Jesus was in overtime.  And overtime is a great place to be.  He wasn’t suffering any pain.  He wasn’t struggling with fear.  His body is not subject to decay or death anymore.

Now, the author of time is Lord over it.  Time does not determine His days.  His joy is real, and He is really looking forward to sharing this joy with us.

So, the next time you look at the calendar and lose heart over the gauntlet that is before you,  remember your savior has lived through His own gauntlet and came out the other side victorious over it at the cross.  Time is Jesus’ slave now.

Amen

Exceptionalism and alarmism

Have you ever heard the phrase, “American exceptionalism”?  It is the assertion that the United States of America was uniquely formed as a democracy in an age of Kingdoms.  The government was to be ‘of the people, for the people and by the people’ was revolutionary.

As the country was developing an identity, another attitude was taking hold; alarmism.  At it’s root, alarmism is an ideology which promotes action to defend oneself.  “The British are coming, the British are coming”, was a call to arms for a very real threat.  And, once a person has been threatened, they tend to retain the reactionary tendency.

So, it has passed on from one generation to another.  Many Americans are modern-day minutemen with arms at the ready for anything that threatens what they hold precious.

It’s useless trying to calm people down who are in that agitated state.  They are unwilling to listen to reason.  They hold to their particular ‘threat’ as a religious belief, even if they think they are not particularly religious.

The threats could be real or imagined, but often, they are exaggerated.  Think of the Mayan Calendar’s supposed prediction of the end of the world in 2012.  Who cares what the Mayans thought?  So what, they invented the number ‘0’?  We don’t follow their social and cultural behavior in other areas, so why do we care what their calendar says?

Yet, many in the U.S. have this reactionary strain living just below the surface.  A virus that blooms when the slightest issue could possibly threaten them.

It could be GMO’s, Global Warming (cough, cough; Climate Change), the rapture of the Church (a modern strain of American Evangelicalism), or air conditioners.  Any number of things cause people to go into a frenetic state, tipped over with the help of a fragile psyche.

And, once one threat diminishes, they move on to the next.  There is an endless supply of people willing to provide threats (remember all the Y2K propaganda?): “The end is nigh”.

How is the church to behave in the midst of a culture of alarmism?  Matthew reports Jesus’ words in chapter 24:

23“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. 24“For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. 25“Behold, I have told you in advance. 26“So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them. 27“For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.

In other words, don’t run around like a chicken with its head cut off.  Christ has already ascended to the throne (Colossians 3:1).  He’s in total control.  He’s also in control of the future.  In fact, He has told us what the future holds, and that He will be victorious.  We are called to rest in the victory of the cross, with an eye to His final victory.

It is in the rest of assured victory that we can love the fanatics within and outside of Christ’s church.  The wild-eyed zealots cannot be won over with reason alone.  Their real and imagined fears can only be assuaged with love.  1 John 4:18 states:

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

It might take a while to talk a fanatic off of the cliff’s edge.  They will passionately rant and rave over what they perceive as a threat to our well-being.  Every once in a while, though, you can calmly drop a seed of wisdom which will grow into a tree of life.  That seed is Jesus, who came into the world to save … fanatics.  Even fanatics like you and me.

Pastor John

Carry on’s

We have some J.W.’s who occupy a hallway at the college I teach at.  They set up their article racks, sit on chairs and engage students who are interested in finding out more.

Sometimes, I want to put up a sign next to them that reads, “Arian Heresy” with an arrow pointed to their set-up.  I would sit next to them and explain to wayward souls why their beliefs are considered heresy.

One significant issue I have is their translation of the book of John.  They mistranslated the definite articles in John Chapter 1 to be indefinite articles (i.e., ‘the word was a god’)  This is theological malpractice.

However, they are not the only ones who participate in this unfortunate behavior.  Many English translations are subject to the “carry-on baggage” of modern evangelicals and Reformed Christians.  Don’t get me wrong; I am not accusing them of heresy.  What I am saying is that some of the choices they made do not accurately reflect the Greek.

One example that can be found in Greek in Galatians 2:16a:

16yet we know that a person is not justifiedb by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ… ‘

Here is the Greek for the words faith and Christ Jesus:

πίστεως Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ  (“Pisteos Christou Iesou”)  Do you see how the endings of both Christou and Iesou are ‘ou’.  This means that you have to add the word ‘of’ to it.  Pisteos is the noun form of ‘faith’.  Altogether, this means, “(the) faith(fullness) of Jesus Christ”.

This specific example happens in other parts of the New Testament, as well.  It makes a HUGE difference in the proper interpretation of Scripture.  I think it is enough to say that it can create a paradigm-shift in the thinking of the reader.

So, why did they do it?  Why is it consistently translated this way in almost every English translation?  Because the translators brought their carry-on baggage on board.  They brought their theology and imposed it on the text of Scripture.

If discovering a contradiction between your theology and the actual text of scripture overturns a previously-held belief, have the intellectual honesty and integrity to be crucified by it.  Be faithful in the translation of the text!  Salvation can hang on a single word!

Pray and let God worry

“Pray, and let God worry.” ― Martin Luther

Many years ago, Professor Rod Rosenbladt was teaching at an evangelical college. He taught a class on reformation history. During this class, some of his students became curious about the Lutheran expression of the Christian faith. One question really stuck with him. They asked, “Do Lutherans pray?”

The above question shows us that we need more people like the Rev. Dr. Rosenbladt to communicate the nature and content of the Lutheran expression to a Christian community which sees you and me as something of a mystery.

But, the question also reflects a sad belief that Lutherans are passive in their prayer life. That’s unfortunate. Luther, himself, said, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” He was not a fatalist. He did not believe in Que Sera, Sera. He believed in a God who actively answered the prayers of His people.

“Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance. It is laying hold of His willingness” (Martin Luther). Many times, our mindset is that we have to “set aside” time for prayer. We need to have a prayer corner or a prayer closet to do this heavy lifting. Yet Paul writes this to the Thessalonians, “16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

What is your idea of prayer?  Is prayer a formal practice?  Is it an action that demands all of your mind?  Do you have to have all of your heart in it for it to work?  What obstacles prevent you from praying?  Paul didn’t command people to pray so they would be righteous in God’s sight.  That already happened at the cross outside of Jerusalem where Jesus died for you.

That cross wasn’t neat and tidy.  The instrument of Christ’s crucifixion was gruesome.  His death was messy.  And, it is the same way with prayer.  If we believe that prayer has to be at the right time, in the right place, with Holy piety, then we will never pray.  No, prayer is mostly a messy, half-spoken, half-believing mess.

We pray when we’re tired.  We pray when we’re in pain.  We pray when anxiety has overtaken us.  We pray when despair has already robbed us of faith.  We throw up figurative ‘Hail Mary’s and gamble on the chance that God hears us.

But, does He?  Does He hear me?  Sometimes, it seems He has locked Himself into a room and ignored my pleas.  It’s enough to make most people give up.  And some have.  It’s easy to become lazy or tired of repeating the same things.

“God wants us to pray, and he wants to hear our prayers—not because we are worthy, but because he is merciful” (Luther). Adding to this thought; God does hear us. Why? Because we are such good prayers? No, but because we pray them through Jesus Christ (Rev. Ron Hodel).

So, pray! Pray for yourself, your family, your church, your community. Pray for wisdom. Pray for guidance. Pray for help. Pray for healing. Pray for peace. Pray for hope. Pray for the proclamation of the Gospel every Sunday.

Pray, and let God worry.

From Discipleship to Apostleship

This past Sunday, we read from John 21 about the commissioning of Peter to feed and tend the lambs and the sheep of Jesus.  Many focus on the restoration of “Simon son of John” in the words, “Do you love me” said three times (which reflected Peter’s three denials).  Others reflect on the bodily resurrection of Jesus who had prepared breakfast for His disciples and spent time with them on the beach.

God has shifted my focus a bit, though.  At the end of the interaction, Jesus says to Peter (and the disciples with him), “Follow me”.  Jesus spoke this very phrase to the Philip in John 1:43.  The location of this event was in Galilee, as the event in John 21 was by the Sea of Galilee (our God is the same yesterday, today and forever).

But the type of “Follow me” spoken in John 1 is very different from what was spoken in John 21.  The calling of Philip and the other disciples in Jesus’ earthly life was  a call to listen, witness and practice a little.  It was discipleship.

Discipleship, then, is largely about receiving.  Small tasks are given to disciples, but mostly, they are to be ‘pew-warmers’, soaking up the Gospel message and witnessing the Kingdom of God’s  establishment in this world through Jesus Christ.

After Jesus died, was buried and was raised to life again, He was transformed.  He had to hand the mission on to His own disciples.  John 21 records some of this.  But, what did He mean now by “Follow me”.  Were they supposed to do the same thing?  Were they supposed to leave their nets and walk through Judea, Galilee and Samaria for another three-year stint, passively receiving the message and witnessing God’s work in this world?

No, they couldn’t.  If for no other reason, Jesus was about to ascend to His Father and sit at His right hand.  He would no longer be available as He had been before His resurrection.  So how are they to understand the commission to “Follow me”, now?  They certainly weren’t being called to sacrifice themselves in mass suicide.  How could they follow Jesus?

Just before Pentecost, the disciples gathered together in the upper room.  Luke records in Acts that there was ‘a group numbering about a hundred and twenty’ (Acts 1:15, NIV).  These included Jesus’ mother and brothers, women and men (1:14).  That is to say, the early Church was ‘in the house’.

As we know from reading Acts 2, 4 ‘All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.’  The mission became obvious to Peter and all around him.  They were to go out and proclaim the Gospel message.  They were ‘sent’ (apostéllō).  

Some remained locally, in Jerusalem, but others went to the ends of the known world.  Discipleship had been transformed from receiving to delivering.  Discipleship had been transformed through Jesus’ resurrection and sending of the Holy Spirit into Apostleship.

This happened through the work of God’s Holy Spirit.

Lutheran congregations get the discipleship side of things.  Luther was brilliant at explaining how we are Justified by Faith Alone in Christ Alone.  He explained how our righteousness is passively received, not gained by meritorious works.

And Lutheran pastors have been right to defend the doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone.  However, most church members have only heard the discipleship side of the issue.  They don’t realize (or aren’t told) that they are given the means of grace (baptism, the Lord’s supper and the proclamation of the word) delivered with the Holy Spirit for Holy Apostleship.  What is received is meant to be delivered.

Perhaps we are waiting for a Pentecost experience.

Certainly, christian education and the proclamation of the Gospel are necessary before one ‘goes out’.  But, make no mistake, the goal for our congregations is not ‘pew-warming’, it’s pew-filling.  It is not merely the call of the one ordained in the front of the congregation!  Apostles begin as disciples but are not called to linger in this receptive phase for their entire lives.  They are to be called out.

This has already happened, though. Jesus has called out His people.  John has recorded the words.  Jesus says to all His disciples, Follow me!  And, by God’s grace delivered in the means given to and for the church, we will.

The Thief

thief-cartoon

Sermon for March 13, 2016 (Fifth Sunday in Lent)

The other day, we were watching a special on the Ark of the Covenant that Angela had recorded.  It was truly fascinating.  Many experts appeared on the show.  A woodworking expert and a metal worker demonstrated how the ark (like a big box) would have been made even on a desert journey.  They gave credit to ancient Israel for making the Ark that held the Ten Commandments.

Another expert claimed that the Israelites never came up with the idea of the ark on their own.  She said that they copied Egyptian designs, and God never really directed them.  She wasn’t willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.  And, she wasn’t willing to give God the credit.

But Jesus does.  He glorifies God by saying that the entire Old Testament is true.  He gives God the credit by glorifying Him and listening to Him.  And, He credits us with his righteousness while not counting the many sins we commit against us.

In our account today, Mary believed that Jesus was truly priceless.  Here she is, pouring one of the most expensive perfumes in the world on His feet!  Judas says it is worth 300 Denarii.  One Denarii would have been a day’s work pay.  300 would equal about $50,000 – $60,000 dollars.  Why was Nard so expensive?

Well, it could only be found in the Himalayas between 10,000 and 17,000 feet, approximately.  It comes from the root of the spikenard plant.  It was a very precious plant.  If someone bought it for perfume, they would only use a little at a time.

Maybe you have some perfume like that.  It’s really expensive and beautiful-smelling.  You only wear it on special occasions.  You are very careful with it because you don’t want to waste an ounce.

Mary is not concerned about wasting the perfume.  She doesn’t take an eye-dropper and put a little on Jesus’ feet.  She generously pours it all over his feet.  Mary extravagantly spends the whole bottle of nard on Jesus’ feet.  She doesn’t hold back.

She doesn’t act modestly, either.  No, she lets down her hair and wipes Jesus’ feet with it.  She showers love and devotion on our Lord Jesus.  Nothing held her back from lavishing worship on Jesus at that moment.

The disciple Judas wasn’t so thrilled about this demonstration.  He wanted to know why the perfume wasn’t sold and given to the poor.  He had an ungenerous spirit!  Here he was criticizing another Jesus follower.

This happens in our day, too.  When people show an uninhibited devotion to Jesus, others are critical of them.  They ask, “Why did you spend so much money?”  Or they criticize the way that other believers worship.  How have you and I had an ungenerous spirit when it comes to the excitement another child of God has about their spiritual lives?

How have I been a wet towel?  In other words, when someone tells us about how excited they are to learn about God, have I responded with encouraging words?  Have I been generous in spirit by complimenting them?

A man named Ed Waren contributed this little illustration on sermonsearch.com:
A man stopped by his bank to cash a check. Just as he got into the lobby, another man with a large bag came running past him, apparently heading for the exit. Then the bank security guard came dashing by, followed by several bank employees. The security guard tackled the man with the bag, handcuffed him and hauled him back into the bank.

The man who had gone in to cash his check was shaking like a leaf. “I’ve actually seen my first robbery,” he said to himself. As he approached the teller’s window he couldn’t resist finding out more about what he had just witnessed. “Was that really a robbery?” he queried.

“Oh, no, sir,” the teller replied calmly. “That was only our substantial penalty for early withdrawal.”

Judas withdrew a generous spirit.  And John tells us why.  Judas was in charge of keeping the disciples’ money.  He had a little habit of helping himself to some it.  If he could only have gotten his hands on some of that perfume money!

Judas was motivated by greed.  Money was his treasure.  It is what his heart was set on.  He found security, meaning and purpose in it.  You and I can be taken in by the things we own, too.  What is it that you can’t live without?  Sometimes, it’s not just one thing, but a house filled with things that entangle and possess.

Jesus speaks of this as recorded in Matthew 6:19-21:

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Finally, Judas is only interested in what would serve him.  An ungenerous spirit and a critical nature were signs of his bondage to sin.  His god was his wallet.  Eventually, he betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.  His selfishness caused him to hide behind the poor.  It sounded pious and righteous to give to the poor, after all.  But Judas was building a golden calf out of the money he had stolen.  His separation from God would lead him to a terrible end separated from both the material world and His savior.

In the end, though, Jesus defends Mary.  Mary’s act of devotion was really a preparation for Jesus’ burial.  Judas had seen the sale of the nard as more valuable than what she did with it by washing Jesus’ feet.  Jesus tells Judas that her act of extravagant devotion was more valuable than giving to the poor because there will always be poor people to help.

Instead of judging Mary, Jesus was going to Jerusalem to justify Mary.  He was going to a cross to pay the whole price for her sin.  And, He was going to that cross to pay the full price for your sin and mine.  He justified you at Calvary.

Jesus is a thief.  He stole our sin while we weren’t looking.  He took our punishment.  He robbed us of eternal separation from God.

But, Jesus is a big spender, too.  He will never run out of grace to give.  He lavishly clothed us in the best robes of true righteousness.  He gave us His righteousness.  It is something we don’t deserve.  The Son of God came for the poor and undeserving.  Those who have nothing to give.  He died for the ungenerous in spirit.  He died for thieves, hoarders and criticizers.  He died for you.  He died for me.

And it is only in this death that we find freedom.  A freedom from looking out for ourselves.  A freedom from finding security in our goods or our money.  A freedom from the self.  How can we be free of ourselves?  The only solution for selfishness is God putting an end to us.  We have been united with Christ in His death through baptism.

We have been set free in Christ to be generous people.  We have been set free from ourselves to care about others’ needs.  Most importantly, we have been set free to worship our God in unrestrained devotion.  Why?  Because His devotion to you is unrestrained.

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,

Amen

 

A drop of a thought

Exegesis is not Jesus.

Fantasizing about proclaiming the Gospel

Long before I began taking classes leading to ordination, I fantasized about what it would be like to proclaim the Gospel.  Some people might call this “vain imaginings”.  They might be right, but I was interested in the message I could bring to people.

Well, it’s been 18 months since I took a call, and a self-evaluation is in order.

Proclaiming the Gospel every Sunday is very difficult.  I thought it would be easy, but the opposite is the case.

I have made the following errors in preaching:

  1. Mistaking intellectual titillation for proclamation.  That is, if I learned something about the history, traditions, Greek or Hebrew, or the literary style of a passage, I thought this would provoke deeper faith in the hearers
  2. Having an axe to grind.  I have been through many denominations and movements as a Christian, and some of the resentment I felt toward their theological errors worked itself into the sermon and poisoned it
  3. Having a chip on my shoulder.  In the first year, I was trying to prove that I was qualified to be in the pulpit.  Overstatements, provocative thoughts, accidental heresy 😦  , even raising my voice were the outworking of my effort to prove I was ‘good enough’ to be there.
  4. Replacing clichés for the gospel.  These phrases had a lack of depth, but I was determined to bring Christ into the picture.  I can’t tell you how many times I used the word “forever” or “Jesus died for you”
  5. Overcomplicating the sermon.  I wanted to put everything I learned into the proclamation.  If you have never seen a group of people be confused before, this is the way to go!

I have been very fortunate to have a forgiving and grace-filled community to lead.  Just as a doctor has a ‘practice’, because s/he is always improving, so it is with the pastor.

Here are a couple of recommendations for recovering from these mistakes:

  1. Theology is for Proclamation by Gerhard Forde – In this work, Forde talks about the ‘Preached God’ and the ‘God not preached’.  Systematic theology, exegesis and history are the God not preached
  2. Glenn L. Monson’s blog, Law and Gospel Everywhere:  http://gluthermonson.blogspot.com/  He also has a great book that leads one through lectionary preaching; Afflicting the Comfortable and Comforting the Afflicted
  3. The Holy Spirit.  Ask Him to guide you back to proclamation.  Ask Him to help you see the law/gospel couplets in a passage.  Ask Him to help you see Christ in the passage.  Otherwise, you will wear out your brain trying to figure things out.  These are God’s people, ask HIM to feed HIS sheep

Stray thoughts

Your worth does not earn God’s love.  God’s love makes you worthy.

Some people think that the Gospel is freedom from ‘tradition’ and liturgy.  They attend church services where it’s relatively free-form.  Underlying the sermon, however, the pastor binds the conscience of the congregants in rules.

In liturgical settings, the service is not focused on the self.  It appears to be ‘bound’ in tradition, but the service and the preached word communicate Grace.  In which of the two can one find true freedom?

 

Love Connection

From Romans 8:

38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

The Intern is a movie about a man named Ben Whitaker who is 70 and retired.  His wife has passed away, and He has used all of his frequent flyer miles to see the world.  When he comes home from these trips, he feels bored.  Retirement is not what he had imagined.

So, He finds a flyer calling for retired people to be interns at an internet clothing site in his neighborhood. He ends up making a romantic connection with the masseuse who works for the company.  The first place Ben brings Fiona (Rene Russo) is a funeral service.  That is a strange location for a first date!

The contrast is striking; Ben has lost a friend (separation), but is connecting with a new person on the same day! Your English teacher might call this juxtaposition.

Life is very often like that.   Children grow up and leave for college then spouses  become closer.  Friends move away and new friends enter in.  Co-workers retire and new co-workers arrive.  Unless we make the effort to continue connecting with those who left, the relationships drift into fond memories.

Paul gives us good news in Romans 8 (see above). He wants you to know that there is nothing that will separate us from the love of God ‘in Christ Jesus’.  How powerful is that?  His own confidence is translated into forceful language given to the church of his time.  And, that church was certainly suffering.  Persecution and execution were the order of the day.  In fact, Christians face persecutions for 300 years before the Emperor Constantine came into power.

The early church faced separations as the people they loved were imprisoned, tortured and killed. Not a pleasant thought!  Even today, Christians are being persecuted and executed all over the world.  They are separated from family and church.  The losses are staggering to those who love them.

Yet, Paul is telling the church of his era and the church of our era, “Take courage!” “You might think that these situations can separate you from God, but they can’t!”  He tells us the following things cannot separate us from the love of God:

  1. Death – the most dreaded and feared of our enemies in this life
  2. Life – persecutions from the world and rejection
  3. Angels – Lucifer and his minions cannot divide us from Jesus
  4. Rulers – Governmental authorities can imprison and do other things, but cannot separate you from Jesus
  5. Things present nor things to come – frightening situations, calamities, disasters
  6. Powers – groups or governments
  7. Height nor depth – being stranded or isolated by geography or position
  8. Anything else in all creation – what other situation or entity can you think of? This also includes guilt, shame, depression, confusion, doubt, despair, fear, etc.

Now, take a sharpie™ and cross out each one of these, saying, “_______ cannot separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus” out loud.

How can we cross these things out when they are part of our present existence?

Because the cross of Jesus utterly defeated them at the cross. Jesus has bonded himself to you in baptismal waters.  There, you were buried and made a new creation by the work of the triune God who has resurrected you in this life.  He has made you His daughter.  He has made you His son.  He signed the adoption papers at Calvary in His blood, and now you are His own.

He gives us this promise as we see the forces of separation bearing down on us, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

Continuing on, the author of Hebrews quotes from Psalm 118 and 56:

“The Lord is my helper;

I will not fear;

what can man do to me?”

Take courage brothers and sisters! Nothing shall separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!

 

Amen!

Pastor John

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