2017 Message From National Lutheran Secretariat – President

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Happy New Year!  Well, 2016 is over.  For some this may be a blessing and for others they will look back at a year that brought much joy. As we consider 2017, many have hope for a better year. Author Rick Page, states in his book Hope is Not A Strategy, that hope, along with faith and love, are essential to life. As you look back at 2016, I’m sure you can find moments when you were successful and when you failed. Failure can be a great learning experience, one that leads to future success, but only if there is reflection on what went wrong, and how it might have been done differently and more successfully.eeor

When I look back at 2016, I see many areas in my life where I had success and many areas where I failed. When I examine my failures, I try not to look at things through the eyes of the old Winnie the Pooh character, Eeyore.   Eeyore, always saw things in the negative light, never had hope or faith in anything greater than himself.

As men and women of faith, we have hope that God is with us. Through prayer we know that God will provide us with all we need, regardless of our circumstances. As its stated in Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

We must lean on our faith to seek God’s greater plan for our lives.  When we are aligned with God’s plan we may find our lives to be less stressful, less worrisome and thus we’re able to live with the excitement and energy of the Winnie the Pooh character, Tigger. So, let’s commit our lives to be more align with what God is calling us to do, to live with hope for a better tomorrow, whiling knowing through our faith that God’s plan is always sufficient.

In closing, please know that this NLS Board is here to serve you. So, if you find that your Secretariat is struggling and doesn’t see hope for tomorrow, please reach out to us and let us help. We have many resources to help you build, strengthen, and grow your community.

 

 

God loves you and so do I,

Your brothers in Christ,

Steve Gielda

National Lutheran Secretariat – President

Affirm November 14th, 2016

Sometimes I get so confused. The other day I was watching the Television and a familiar face appeared on a commercial. It was the guy who used to always say, “Can you hear me now?” Of course, at that time, he was promoting Verizon Cellular. His kind of nonchalant, only the facts persona, won people over. Verizon’s catchy little slogan caught on with people and it didn’t take long for them to be sharing the same slogan in many different settings. I remember using it myself as I was discipling one of my children – “Can you hear me now?” I thought it had a great effect in that context.

But in the commercial, just the other day, this same guy actually came out and asked if we remembered him saying, “Can you hear me now?” but wanted us to know he wasn’t asking that anymore. He then went on to describe the minimal differences between any and all of the major cellular services available to us. He had switched sides, joining Sprint and wanting us to do the same by asking, “Did you hear that?”

Something tells me what really happened was Verizon’s little slogan had run it’s course and this guy’s services were no longer necessary. His contract wasn’t renewed. Which opened the door for the competitor to step in and take advantage of something that worked really well in the past, hoping it would work well again now.

Well, I share all of that with you, because as I was reading the Word today I read this…
“The shepherd walks right up to the gate. The gatekeeper opens the gate to him and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice.” John 10:2-4 MSG

And then twice more Jesus says this…
“I am the Good Shepherd. I know My own sheep and My own sheep know Me.” John 10:14, 27 MSG

There are so many familiar voices in our world today. Voices that push us and pull us in every direction. Voices that offer to us the world, but voices that will only suck the life right out of us. Voices that will cause division and confusion, but yet sound almost OK.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Listen for the Good Shepherd’s voice. It’s like none other. He’s still speaking to us today. He’s never stopped. You may need to silence all the voices trying to drown out His, but if you will, you’ll find the peace, the joy, the contentment for your unsettled soul that you’ve been looking for.

Father,

Speak to me now and often. Holy Spirit help me silence all the other voices in my life because I want to hear the voice of my Shepherd. Jesus, in Your name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

October 31st 2016 Affirm

As I was reading the Word this morning I was reminded of a High School classmate of mine, I’ll call him Lowell. Lowell was really shy and somewhat awkward, but very likeable. He kept to himself most of the time. He was much smaller than the rest of us and it seemed to me that he got picked on quite a bit.

One day, one of the upper classmen thought it would be funny to spray Lowell in the face with the fire hydrant. I don’t know what could have happened to Lowell but I do know what happened to that upper classmen. I lost my temper, grabbed him by the throat, backed him up against the wall and told him never to even look at Lowell again. I’m not saying that was the right thing to do… I’m just telling you what happened.

Have you ever been made fun of, put down, teased, bullied, ridiculed? If you have, I really want to encourage you to read Psalm 123. It’s just four short verses. King David wrote this Psalm and in it he tells us about being the victim of some bullies. However, his reaction, his solution, his way of handling his problem was much better than mine. He actually tells us a much healthier way of what we might call “retaliation.”

Read this…
“I look to You, heaven-dwelling God, look up to You for help.” Psalm 123:1 MSG

Did you catch that? Did you hear David’s secret tactic? He wasn’t thinking of ways to “get back” or “pay back” his enemies. He made a conscious decision to simply look to God for mercy. David wasn’t interested in revenge. He simply wanted a confirmation of God’s love for him, absolute assurance of God’s control and dominion in his life and that perfect peace that comes from knowing and totally trusting God.

Here’s the most important part – David allowed God to define who he was, not the world, not the bully. Oh, don’t get me wrong, David’s feelings were hurt. He took a beating, not necessarily like Lowell, but on the inside it stung, it crushed him every time it happened. But He knew that God was on his side.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: “Keep your eyes on Jesus…’ as the Bible tells us in Hebrews 12:2, “… who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how He did it. Because He never lost sight of where He was headed…”

Father,
As You well know, the world around us can be really tough and when we get beat up it’s easy for us to lose our way or react as the world does. Jesus, You are our Influence. Holy Spirit, help us to live more like our Savior today. Jesus, it’s in Your name we pray. Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

October 17th, 2016 Affirm

I remember reading, though I don’t remember where, someone saying that we all have three basic needs. Every human being is created with these needs and finds fulfillment when these needs are met.

It was stated that we all have a need to be wanted. We have a part of us that wants to belong. Oh, we might like our alone time, our quiet time, but we do want to be wanted by others. We understand that we were made for community, for family, and we desire to be a part of it. We were not made to be the Lone Ranger, an island in the ocean, a pie-in-the-sky.

Secondly, we all want to be needed. I guess that’s just another level higher than wanted. We all come with our gifts and talents and when we realize who we are and how God has gifted us, we want to use those gifts for others and for our God. And in a good way, we want to be recognized as someone who contributes to the greater good. We’re not just consumers who take and take, but investors who give and give.

The last basic need is, we all want to be loved. Inside of us is a cavity that has a need to be filled, but not filled with just anything, but filled with love, genuine love. Love that is authentic.

But here’s the problem… we live in a fallen world, with fallen people. We ourselves aren’t always open to wanting, needing or loving people and we in turn have experienced the same. We’ve been hurt numerous times by being left out, unnecessary, and undesirable. We’ve been overlooked and turned away. Then what? If these basic needs are true how will we or anyone ever have them met?

Well, you know me, I have a Word for that. I found it in the book of Lamentations of all spots. Read this…
“When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The “worst” is never the worst. Why? Because the Master won’t ever walk out and fail to return… His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.” Lamentations 3:28-31, 32b MSG

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: The truth is… we do have basic needs that need to be met. The truth is… we aren’t always going to have them met. The truth is” we aren’t always going to meet everyone else’s needs either. The truth is… God will never walk out on you and He has stockpiles of loyal love waiting for you. God loves you and so do I.

Father,
Thank You for filling my cup today. Thank You for reminding me that You will always satisfy my soul. Give me eyes to love the people around me today like You do. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

September 26th Affirm

It happens each and every week, usually on Sunday. Either my bride ask, or I do the asking, but the question is always the same: “What does your schedule look like this week?” It’s then we compare our notes so that we can find out when our paths will cross.

Today is Monday. We’re back at it. Our schedules are probably fuller than we want them. Kids going off to school, meetings we need to attend, phones calls we need to make, crying babes, doctor visits, got to pick the car up from the garage. You name it, it’s happening. Our stuff, that fills our daily and weekly grind, doesn’t care that we just had a weekend off. It doesn’t care that we just recuperated from the previous week. As fast as it can, it fills our every waking moment, like water finding the path of least resistance, or sugar sand sifting through our fingers.

Today is Monday. The prophet Isaiah calls us to sing, shout, raise the roof, testify to the greatness of God with wild abandon, to throw off our fears and celebrate our salvation. But it is Monday and let’s face it, it can be hard to praise God on a Monday.

But Isaiah didn’t really care what day of the week it was. Here’s what he said…
“Joyfully you’ll pull up buckets of water from the wells of salvation. And as you do it, you’ll say, ‘Give thanks to God.’” Isaiah 12:3 MSG

This metaphor is perfect for a Monday, because it celebrates all that God has done for us by imagining praise as a routine, as an everyday survival activity, like drawing water from a well. Praise of our God should be as routine as brushing our teeth or getting dressed.

So here’s my word of encouragement for you today: It’s Monday. I know it’s Monday, So let’s move through our Monday, and our Tuesday, and Wednesday, and Thursday and we might as well include Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with finding ways to sing and shout, to praise and tell the world of God’s saving power through His Son, Jesus Christ. Let’s try that and then you tell me if your week didn’t work out better than you had planned.

Father,
We praise You for all You have done for us. As we move through our ordinary days, help us rejoice in You always. In Jesus mighty name we pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

Summer is Here

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Summer is here and this means it’s time for our Annual Gathering.  This is a great time for those who are able to attend this blessed event.  It’s an opportunity to fellowship with old friends (I know….careful), learn new things to help keep your secretariat strong, and of course worship together as brothers and sisters in Christ!

If you haven’t attended, please consider coming next year!  If you are coming to join in the fun this year, I can’t wait to see you!

We have an exciting agenda put together for you and the Host Team from Great News has been working hard to provide an over-the-top experience for us all!

God loves you and so do I,

Your brothers in Christ,

Steve Gielda

National Lutheran Secretariat – President

Thoughts from the National Gathering

Grace, peace, and mercy from God: Father, Son, Holy Spirit!

It is my joy, honor, and privilege to write sharing some thoughts of our recent National VdC Gathering, thanking you for the opportunity to lead, and reminding you of a couple of things regarding this ministry. All that while not being too preachy!
Our National VdC Gathering was a joy! The seven worship services were wonderful and uplifting in oh so many ways! The palpable presence of God’s in each one. Kristy Nabhan-Warren, our keynote speaker, grounded us in history and provided encouragement for the journey. The Forums were structured for discussion on aspects of our ministry: weekend, 4th Day, Secretariat, and “What are you going to do” with what you heard. The  conversation and sharing surrounding all this was glorious. While there were many encouraging “high points” for me, the most heart warming was: “next year I am going to make sure I bring someone else to this Gathering because I learned so much!” Next year we “Gather” at Lourdes University in Sylvania, OH, July 21 – 24.
After dinner on Saturday of the Gathering, we said “good bye” to Tedd Smith, your VP for Outreach for the last two years! His love for the Lord and 4th Day Movement ministries is so deep. Please pray for him in the coming months as he works through some physical challenges. He knows God is the ultimate healer – please pray for wisdom (doing the right things at the right time) and God’s presence in all he and his wife Billie experience. We also said good bye to Alice Allison, in abstentia. Alice was not able to be with us since her doctor advised her not to travel. In conversations since, she is doing well and “returning to ‘normal’! With that said, please continue to pray for her. Finally, I was thanked for my service with a gracious gift. Please know it was my joy to lead this ministry over the last four years. I learned so much: about this ministry, about your challenges and opportunities, about how God works in everything we do – the good and especially in what we believe are not so “successful”; and finally, about myself. Thank you from the depths of my being!
I close with some reminders. First, we work in God’s creation, not ours. Relax in the stretching God provides. As when a muscle is stretched, if we tense-up during the stretch, we will end up hurting ourselves. Next, discover and confide in your Aaron. Just as God told Moses, when he felt ill prepared, Aaron’s are important for they often provide insights and encouragement. Finally, I know the key to success: prayer! Without prayer our heart is not right and neither is our definition of success. And the corollary, the key to failure – be all things to all people. If Jesus couldn’t do it, how in the world do we think we can? Be about God’s work in the places and spaces God leads you!
May you each know God’s grace, mercy, peace, and presence!
Ed
PS: Steve Gielda asked me to write this – look for a Musing from him in the not too distant future…probably October!
PPS: If you were not able to attend the Gathering, viadecristo.org home page provides a link to the daily Conexiones that provide a great synopsis of the various Gathering activities.
In Christ –
Ed

Grace

Grace, peace, and mercy from God: Father, Son, Holy Spirit!

Let’s focus on the first word of this greeting as an encouragement in our walk with God and our work in this ministry: Grace. What a marvelous word! Volumes have, and will be, written on the subject. The second talk of a Via de Cristo weekend is titled “Grace” and energizes the process of renewing our relationship with the creator, redeemer, and sanctifier of the universe. As you know what’s awe-inspiring about grace is God freely gives it. I once heard grace described as “God loves you no matter what – deal with it!” Grace and unconditional love is not very common in today’s world. A few questions inside a question for your reflection: “How do you deal with God’s amazing grace? Put it on a pedestal and worship it? Put it in the closet and bring it out only when it “seems” right? Exercise it daily in your dealings with others created in the image of God? Possibly something else?”

God’s grace and love for us, and all creation, is boundless. I suppose that discovery, coupled with the understanding that as believers in Jesus (God: Son), God: Holy Spirit is always with us, is what propels us, energizes us to do what we do in our daily lives and in this ministry. If you heard me say this before, it’s worth repeating: When you come face-to-face with God’s love, you realize that nothing, absolutely nothing you do or say will cause God to love you more. With that, everything is done in response to God’s love rather than to gain God’s love.

I love the priestly blessing recorded in Numbers 6:24. However, I modify the last word to reflect God’s grace and love for us. “The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you shalom.” Shalom is more than the absence of worry and conflict – it is the certain knowledge that God is with us: loving, guiding, comforting, and keeping us, now and forever.

In Christ –

Ed

Springtime in the Rockies

Grace, peace, mercy, and love from God: Father, Son, Holy Spirit!

One thinks of Easter – one also thinks of spring. Isn’t it grand to know the grass is greening, trees are beginning to bud, some flowers have bloomed while others are showing green sprouts. The essence of spring is predictable but never precisely.

Similar, I think to the God we serve. I opened with: “Grace, peace, mercy, and love from God: Father, Son, Holy Spirit!” Is God’s grace predictable? What about God’s peace? Is God’s mercy predictable? How about God’s love? Since volumes have been and will be written on each of these, I won’t try to answer them precisely. I will, however, make a bold statement – like the changing of seasons, they are more than predictable, they are assured to those who believe and even before their belief. They, however, present themselves in very unpredictable forms.

It is springtime in the Rockies. The grass is really green: moisture and fertilizer assured that outcome! However, if it would only quit precipitating (both rain and snow) so I have a chance to mow before I need to hay and bale it! Some trees are leafing out – some have bud swell – others haven’t even “budged” because of a weird November (there is worry many have died). The crocuses and daffodils have been and gone. Iris are getting ready to present their marvelous colors. Green shoots on rose bushes indicate they too will bloom. Predictable – but – not even precisely for it is in God’s time with each season different offering both excitement and joy.

God’s grace, God’s peace, God’s mercy, and God’s love are predictable to those that believe, even before there is belief – but – never precisely. A friend recently suffered a stoke. Was it predictable – possibly to some in the medical community. However, I don’t believe anyone on this planet could precisely predict the date, time, and circumstances of the “event.” Was God’s grace present – oh, yes! The friend prayed enroute to the hospital, by helicopter, God be with me – if this is it I’m ready to be with you, if it is not then that’s okay too! Did the friend know God’s peace – most assuredly. However, not the peace defined as the absence of difficulties – the peace that presented itself was the certain knowledge God was with him. Was there mercy – oh yes, but not as anyone might have predicted! The friend told staff members attending to him of God’s great love for not just him but for all of them…WOW! Was there love? As I spoke with the friend’s spouse, there was God’s love: love of the medical team, love of neighbors, love of friends, love of Christian brothers and sisters. Oh, my – the love that was present in her eyes as she related many ways God’s love was present.

Predictable, oh probably…precisely, no one could have even come close! God’s grace, peace, mercy, and love…oh, how wonderful! The amazing part of all this is: we are not unintentional bystanders on the stage of life. God gives each of us the privilege of being on the stage in the exact spot where we find ourselves to tell of God’s unbelievable grace, peace, mercy, and love for all of creation.

May God richly bless you this day and forever.

In Christ –

Ed

God really does love us!

Grace, peace, mercy, and love from God: Father, Son, Holy Spirit

Every Good Friday, every Easter, and every Easter season, I am reminded, awe-struck actually, by what God has done for all creation! I know Lent is a time to reflect and discover the things in our own lives that aren’t just “right.” But, with the Good Friday service and reflecting on what God did for me…for all people…for all of creation…WOW! God really does love us, oh so much! It is simultaneously really more than just about me – and – it includes me!

Every time I gather with brothers for a conversation about God, every time I gather with brothers and sisters to encourage one another on this Christian-life journey, every time I gather with brothers and sisters to prepare for a weekend or a National Gathering, I am awe-struck at how God encourages us (others and me) on this journey called life…WOW! God really does love us, oh so much!

In the liturgical calendar, the time between Easter and Pentecost is referred to as the season of Easter. In the church, it is a time of joy and celebrating the grace and peace all creation has in God…WOW! God really does love us, oh so much!

I encourage each person reading this to just stop…maybe for five minutes…maybe everyday…to thank the God that created us, that redeemed us, that sanctifies us every minute of every day of every month of every year of our lives! What an amazing God! One who always listens…who always cares…who is always there…WOW! God really does love us, oh so much!

The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.

In Christ –

Ed

PS: The peace referred to is not the removal of difficulties in our lives…it is God’s shalom: the certain knowledge that God loves us, oh so much!