From Pastor Karl

From Pastor Karl (60)

Tuesday, 12 September 2017 13:52

After the Storm (Part 2 of ?)

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"Sufficient Unto the Day is the Evil Thereof." - Jesus as quoted from KJV (Matthew 6.34) 

I'm not necessarily a fan of the Bible in the old Kings English (KJV), but this one has stuck with me as poetic -- especially after the storm. 

To know me is to know I'm a planner. I look forward all the time (sometimes, maybe, too far forward) to see what's next, where I'm going, and for what should I prepare. 

During and after the storm, however, I've had to say, "I don't know" or "We'll see" an uncomfortable amount of times. Everything from weather to gasoline supplies have produced significant question-barriers urging me (forcing?) me to stay focused on the now, today and what I know. 

And lo and behold, today is enough. God is present yesterday. God is present today. God is present now. God is present. God is. God. 

I know you know this, and know this probably better than me. Maybe I simply needed to write it down for you to read it back to me. 

God is present in the storm and after the storm, and in many of life's hurricanes far more ferocious than Irma, but always present so I can always take solace in this. 

"Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." 
Monday, 11 September 2017 12:23

After the Storm

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After the storm...

Relief and grief may exist in the same place at the same time.
It's likely relief and grief co-exist in the same space as the mix of aftermath-emotions crisscross through your soul. The mixture and power of the emotions are, of course, different for everyone. Nonetheless, however they mix-up into your soul, pay attention to the energy it takes and the resources it demands to keep your soul replenished. 

Breathe deeply. Pray constantly. Reflect openly. Sort through it all patiently... 

"For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish." - God (through the prophet Jeremiah 31.25)

You may have confusion and unclear thinking about where you go from here.
Even if it's a new routine for storm clean-up ahead, or the new reality of starting a whole new way of living, conflicting thoughts about what to do next and where next to turn can leave you in a quandary. The mind has to re-create new pathways that seem unfamiliar (because they are). You may tilt your head and ask if this really happened. You're not going crazy. That's normal and necessary to create the "new normal." Ask the Lord to renew your mind (rather than try and go back to the old one). 

Breathe deeply. Take your time. Think out loud and converse with friends about options. Pray for the renewal of your mind.

" transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."  - St Paul (Ro 12:2) 

Get started re-imagining, re-working or rebuilding. 
Even if it's picking up sticks or sweeping up a mess, go ahead and get started toward restoration, renovation and renewal. Probably the most important step is the first one. Go ahead and get started. God has designed you for movement to tend what is yours or minister to others with what is theirs, or join with the community restoring what is ours, together. 

Look forward. Trust wholly God is utilizing your efforts to recreate and create that which will bless you and others. Work. Rest. Repeat. 

"For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."  - St Paul (Eph 2:10)
Friday, 08 September 2017 10:53

The Shadow of Your Wings

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Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me,
for in you my soul takes refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed.”

-        David, While Running from Saul (Ps 57)

What struck me about this Psalm is David’s phrase, “…until the disaster has passed.”

For obvious Irma reasons we share in David’s plight, and in his refuge in God. This psalm appears to have been created in a cave while David was “hunkered down” hiding from Saul who was hunting him in a jealous rage.

It’s the nature of pending disaster that caught my spirit.

First of all they happen…a fallen world produces both jealous rage and raging storms…

Secondly, amid serious circumstances, David turns and looks for “the shadow of” God’s wings. The image, (taken from the maternal security offered to birds in the nest) is designed to provide universal assurance in specific ways we have need…

My David inspired prayer,
Lord have mercy on us as Irma comes ashore, have mercy
            For in you will our souls take refuge.
Move us to whatever place is the shadow of your wings
            Until the storm has passed.” 
Thursday, 31 August 2017 20:10

Why Jesus!? Because Our Works Do Follow Us

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Why Jesus!? 

This Labor Day weekend worship concludes our summer-long worship series asking the question, "Why Jesus!?" 

By way of summary, we answered the question: Because....

1.     He opens up a clear path to the Father

  1. He's part of a powerful and mysterious Trinitarian relationship
  2. Forgiveness (plain, powerful and simple)
  3. He's Trustworthy
  4. He's the Truth that sets you free
  5. He Absolute and Timeless
  6. Challenges us to embrace hard truth
  7. Invites us to accept sweet rest
  8. He promises his Presence through history's toughest times
  9. He provides eternal purpose
  10. He encourages deep confidence
  11. He redeems suffering
  12. He snatches life from the grip of death
  13. He rewards our faith-driven good works
This Labor Day weekend we'll examine the blessing of our labors - both in the world and in the Kingdom of God. 

We'll (re)learn that although heroic acts count as good works, our Lord really calls us to a lifestyle of good works that flow from faith! It's more about the way we live rather than any given big moment. And, lo and behold, our lifestyle of good works serve to glorify the God who prepared them for us beforehand! 

I pray you'll leave the sanctuary more confident and equipped for the labor of your hands to matter all the way to eternity! 

In fact, according to the Bible, (Rev. 14.13) they’ll follow you there! 

See you soon, Good Lord willing,
Pastor Karl 
Tuesday, 29 August 2017 13:27

A Loving Response to the Texas Floods

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Descriptions of the SE Texas floods seem to stretch for adjectives. "Unprecedented." "Unparalleled." I've even heard "apocalyptic." And certainly the uninterrupted coverage leads us to struggle with a sense of awe, angst - and especially for Floridians, a background sense of foreboding this could be us...

What are we to do with our sense of helplessness? Frustration? Maybe even wondering why God would allow such a thing to happen? 

In short, turn to Him! 

First of all, the Bible makes it clear that in the Fall, creation itself found "its bondage to corruption" (Romans 8.18-22) I.e., as a (systemic) impact of sin, "cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you will eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it will bring forth for you..." (Genesis 3.17-18)  Creation became dis-integrated and a cause of pain.... and hurricanes.... and floods... even epic floods. The point? God isn't sending a nasty message to the people of Houston; He isn't the cause of weather tragedy - but the Source of help within such tragedy brought about in a fallen and dis-integrating world. 

Turn to Him in Pslam 46 and be reminded that in the midst of the storms and floods, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble."

Turn to Him like the prophet Jeremiah and plead, "Be not a terror to me; you are my refuge in the day of disaster." (Jeremiah 17.17) 

Turn to Him for spiritual and physical shelter like the Psalmist, "For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent he will ilft me high upon a rock." (27.5) 

Pray for those in the floods even when you don't know what to pray. Trust that, "The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." (Romans 8.26) 

Donate to those experiencing the overwhelming nature of the floods. 
LCMS World Relief and Human Care (Disaster Response) is a credible source that stands ready to help with a history of good stewardship of funds and people equipped to serve!  


Saturday, 26 August 2017 09:22

Prayers for Those in Hurricane Harvey's Path

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Floridians know about the difficulties, dangers and displacement of hurricanes and storms, so, let's join together in prayers like this one - and those from our own heart, for those in Texas in hurricane Harvey's path.

Along with the Psalmist we pray,

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul mtakes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
otill the storms of destruction pass by.
                                         --Ps 57:1 

During and after the storm, we ask you to...
Show your mercy and provide refuge to those in need. 
Through the miraculous and mundane, 
Through their fears and trials, 
Protect and comfort with your Grace.
Be with first responders as they rescue. 
Be with recue centers who pour out your grace with daily provision. 
Hear our prayers through Him who went through the storm for us, 
Even your Son, our friend, Jesus! 
Friday, 25 August 2017 11:59

God's Ultimate Win-Win

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The "Win-Lose" scenario...

Politicians engage it. Our court system often has to practice it. Divided families and congregations can suffer from it. It's built into sports competition and certainly part of the odds in a casino.

The "Win-Win" scenario...

St Paul has a better plan - actually he got the plan from Jesus who got the plan from his Father! 

"For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." (Philippians 1.21) This is the way the ESV translation says it. 

Some of the modern-day paraphrases expand on this "win win" understanding.

The Message says, "Alive I'm Christ's messenger; dead, I'm his bounty. Life verses even more life! I can't lose!" 

The New Living Translation writes, "For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better." 

The Good News Translation says, "For what is life? To me, it is Christ. Death, then, will bring more." 

All summer we've been asking the same question, "Why Jesus!?" In this second-to-last Sunday we'll proclaim a Biblical Truth that produces a profound sense of confidence, courage and perseverance. 

In Christ - you can't lose. You can only win. You've already won. 

This isn't a denial of current suffering or a gloss over people's pain - but a message of depth and substance there is life now and later that is larger than all the world, the flesh and devil can dish out. 

What kind of confidence might you have, how much anxiety might you shed since both living and dying are in Christ!? 

Let's come together Sunday to celebrate the "win-win" we have been given in Christ! 

Confidently yours, 
Pastor Karl 

Fellow Disciples of Jesus, 

Yesterday was a great day at Peace. 

Worship and God's Word focused on the Spirit's power to move us to rejoice in the glory of God - even in our sufferings! In fact, glorifying God through our sufferings sometimes provided an even greater witness than doing so through smooth sailing and calm waters. 

Additionally, we held a well-attended "Town Hall Meeting" to generate conversation around Godly goals and plans for the upcoming program year. I was delighted at the honest questions and frank conversation as to where we're going, including how and why we believe the Lord is leading us there! Essentially, the theme for next year summarizes it well - we want to elevate the importance of discipleship - growing in God's Power and Peace! 

Since we didn't make it through the presentation, and, because some of the tyipe in the presentation was way too small, I've been asked to distribute it via email. So, here it is. In essence, we're utilizing the "both/and" Biblical principle as we proceed forward. "Both/and" applies to the Trinue God who is both one and three; Jesus is both God and man; the sacrament both bread/wine and body/blood. So we're proceeding forward in worship with both tranditional and contemporary expresssions to glorify the Lord we serve. We're enhancing discipleship-growing ministries to both long-term members and new visitors. We're both living for today and working for tomorrow! 

Thank you for being a part of transformational process God is working at Peace. Thank you for the prayers seeking the Lord's blessings. Thank you for participating in our new program year, "Discipleship > Membership!" I trust God will bless! 

​​​​​​​Pastor Karl
It's not warped to rejoice in one's sufferings -  rather, it's a platform to glorify God! 

Look, no one is saying that suffering is good or acceptable or even a part of the Plan. Suffering is none of these and not to be glorified. 

It is, however, opportunity to illustrate the work of God!  

St Paul spells out the spiritual process that begins in suffering and ends in hope in Romans 5.1-5. Jesus utilizes the suffering and healing of a man born blind as a platform for the weakest to stand against the culturally powerful in John 9.  What Christians rejoice about is the Godly redemption of suffering, the meaninglessness of suffering taking on higher This is what God does, through Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit! It's also the focus of our time of worship! 

A "Town Hall Meeting" will follow our time of worship for prayer and conversation around

  1. Our plan for the upcoming program year (September 2017 - May 2018) for you to experience spiritual transformation, and for us to double in attendance. Your thoughts and prayers and participation will help shape this year's theme, "Discipleship > Membership." 
  2. Summary of updates on Peace "vital signs" with a new "dashboard" our Business Manager, Maria Hays has been developing. It will provide an overview of key stats through July
  3. We'll share a large "Thanks be to God" for our early learning center that just achieved a 5-Star rating by the state of Florida! 
  4. Discuss the possibility of a cell tower being erected in the back of our property and learn of potential rental income, timing, safety, etc.

After that - one of our favorite grill experts, Tony Mount, will serve three kinds of pork, baked beans and coleslaw!

Plan to stay, eat, enjoy and continue the discussions begun in the Town Hall meeting! 

It's a powerful Biblical message followed by a very informative time together followed by good eating! 

See you soon, Good Lord willing, 
Pastor Karl 
Friday, 11 August 2017 15:46

Are You Confident?

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Are you self-confident? Do you live confidently? Does it fluctuate with the circumstances? Does it just fluctuate, period?

For many of us, perhaps most of us, confidence is fleeting - dependent on a host of human and earthly variables. It's influenced by our history, how practiced we are in an art or athletics. It's dependent on our age, the subject matter or our temperament at the time. 

If you plug in "confidence" on Amazon you'll discover 1,056,785 results. If you scroll through the titles they'll be a preponderance of long titles telling you how great you really are. Like last week's focus on "purpose," an examination of "confidence" uncovers a human character flaw that acts like a bucket with a big hole in it. We just can't fill it up for good or for long.  

Sunday's worship is focused around confidence - or more accurately stated, Christ-confidence! 

As it turns out, it's the "self" in "self-confidence" that is the problem. However, when it is replaced by something (or better yet) someone, powerful, loving, consistent and complete, produces all that (and more) in the human soul. 

Our Biblical focus is the fundamental, "Gospel-in-a-nutshell" John 3.16 and Ephesians 2.1-10.  Both declare a powerful, loving, consistent and complete Love that provides a confidence for life beyond and above circumstances. 

Sunday's confidence-building hour will also include receiving the Lord's Body and Blood and the Installation of our Early Learning Center faculty/staff. 

I'm looking forward to the confidence boost the Lord has in store for us all! 

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