This article written by Pastor RJ Runewald was originally posted on his blog.
Motherhood. Being a mom is perhaps one of the most difficult, thankless, overlooked, and exhausting callings that God has created. And it is also one of the most important callings that there is. When I walk in the door after a busy day of work, I am able to leave my work behind and my kids are excited to play and have fun with daddy. My wife on the other hand, when she has a difficult day at home as a mom, she’s still got to be a mom. And while daddy walks in the door for fun times, mommy just spent hours trying to get a meal ready, discipline a two-year-old, and straighten up the house. Have I mentioned that being a mom is difficult?
- Published: 10 May 2019 10 May 2019
- Last Updated: 10 May 2019 10 May 2019
Jesus appears to Peter
One of the most touching moments in the Bible occurs when Jesus appears to Peter after He rose from the dead. Why? Because here was a man who needed to see Jesus alive if he was not to spend the rest of his life haunted by the memory of his threefold denial of the Savior. Can you imagine his excitement as his Lord appeared to him? To Peter, we can be sure, this was the most important appearance of the risen Christ. But that was Peter. What about you?
Jesus appears to Thomas
Another dramatic moment was again just after Easter when Jesus appeared to Thomas. It was Thomas who had said “seeing was believing.” So the Lord let him see him alive and insisted that the unbelieving one place his finger into his hands (which had been wounded for his transgressions while on the cross) and quit being faithless. But that was Thomas. What about you?
Hollywood could really do justice to the moment when Jesus chose to return from heaven to appear to Saul on that Damascus Road. Saul, with great hate in his heart toward those who followed “the Way”, was stricken blind by the appearance of the risen Christ. This experience changed Saul to Paul, a persecutor to an apostle, and gave to Christendom one of its greatest heroes. He describes it this way: “And last of all he appeared to me also.”
- Published: 04 May 2019 04 May 2019
- Last Updated: 04 May 2019 04 May 2019
“Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!” Pacific Hills resounded with these words of proclamation this past Sunday as our hymns, led once again by our newly renovated organ emerged from our lips and filled the space. The alleluias have returned, and so has the organ. Thanks to a very generous gift, and thanks to the skills of the team of workers at Bedient Pipe Organ Company of Lincolnand Integrated Organ Technology of Atlanta, the Schantz organ is good as new, restored for the next generation of saints who call Pacific Hills their home.
- Published: 28 April 2019 28 April 2019
- Last Updated: 29 April 2019 29 April 2019
Some time ago one of God’s servants was lying in a hospital bed awaiting surgery. He told his sons that in his meditations and prayers he was invariably brought, as he put it, “to the prayer above all prayers: ‘Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.’”
This was the prayer that was in his heart and on his lips as he went to surgery. It was his petition as he passed through the “valley of the shad- ow” and drew near to receiving his “crown of glory”.
During this season of Lent, we think about our Lord’s bitter suffering and death, traveling along The Via Dolorosa, “The Way of Sorrows,” to Calvary’s cross. Our one real aim in rehearsing this sacred story is for us and others to recognize our sin and be led to pray: “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.”
The prayer comes to us from the lips of the tax collector in Jesus’ parable, The Pharisee and the Tax Collector in the Temple. The Pharisee, in his prayers, chronicled all that he was doing for God – and went away
still only full of himself. The Tax Collector humbly prayed for mercy and forgiveness – and went away justified, enjoying the Lord’s presence within him.
As Lent focuses our attention even more sharply on the cross, we recognize that it stands as an awful condemnation of prideful human sin. It speaks to us of death, the consequence of humanity’s willful separation from God. On the cross we see the suffering that was required of the Son of God as God’s atoning sacrifice for our sin. We know Jesus’ cry from the cross; “My God, why have You forsaken me?” should have come from our own lips. And so we are led to pray humbly, “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.”
- Published: 25 April 2019 25 April 2019
- Last Updated: 25 April 2019 25 April 2019
By Reverend Dr. Richard P. Bucher (originally appeared on Our Redeemer Lutheran Church website)
What is this thing we call Holy Week and the special days within it? What is the history of the annual celebrations that happen in this leading to Easter? In other words, though we know that the events that we remember during Holy Week really happened to Jesus (e.g., the procession into Jerusalem, the Last Supper, His death on the cross, His resurrection), when did Christians begin to annually observe them as we do? And, what is the significance of our observances today? This article attempts to offer a brief introduction.
As we now practice it, Holy Week is the last week of the 40 day season of Lent and the week preceding Easter. In Holy Week we focus on the last week of Christ's life, remembering especially His passion and resurrection. Though calling this week "Holy Week" is more of a recent innovation, the annual observance of the festivals within it are of ancient origin.
Palm Sunday is the commemoration of our Lord's triumphant entry into Jerusalem five days before His crucifixion. Scripture records this incident in Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1- 11, Luke 19:29-44, and John 12:12-19. This day takes its name from the fact that as Jesus approached Jerusalem on a donkey (in fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9), the huge crowd that followed carried palm branches as they praised Him. The people hailed Him as the long awaited "Son of David," that is, the Messiah.
- Published: 16 April 2019 16 April 2019
- Last Updated: 16 April 2019 16 April 2019
In preschool we’ve been talking about the miracles of Jesus.
While learning about Jesus feeding the 5,000 we discussed what a generous God we have. The people with Jesus that day were hungry, and he provided enough food to satisfy them, and there were even 12 baskets of leftovers.
The preschoolers talked about wants and needs and how God provides for everything we need (such as food, clothes, etc.) as well as many things we want (toys, TVs, games).
- Published: 12 April 2019 12 April 2019
- Last Updated: 12 April 2019 12 April 2019
Jesus said, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” Repent…to want to do better; to turn away from; to desire to change. Repent. Let the law of God speak to you, convict you, and confess your sins. Repent. Lent has begun. The ashes have been smeared on our foreheads reminding us we are dust, and to dust we shall return. Lent is a penitential season. A time for reflection on our sin. The very sin Christ took upon himself in His baptism and nailed to the cross for our reconciliation with God. There it is….the fulfillment of the Gospel; forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.
It's wonderful to know and believe in the Gospel, for Jesus teaches us that not only is our Father willing to forgive us, but that he has forgiven us all of our sins for the sake of Jesus. After all, Jesus did exactly what God expected of us. In our stead, Jesus suffered God's full judgment and punishment that we deserve because of our arrogant and rebellious breaking of his Law. Because of that, when we pray The Lord's Prayer, we may pray confidently: "Forgive us our trespasses."
- Published: 06 April 2019 06 April 2019
- Last Updated: 06 April 2019 06 April 2019
This Sunday’s entrance hymn is the much-loved “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” Written by Robert Robinson, a Methodist and then a Baptist evangelical preacher around 1760, the hymn first appeared in print in Wyeth’s Repository of Sacred Songs in 1813.
The second stanza of the hymn begins with these words: “Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I’ve come.” I can remember being curious about these words when I first played this hymn as a young boy. “What’s an Ebenezer? Ebenezer Scrooge? No….that can’t be it…” Then I thought, “Our church is on Ebenezer Road…. No, that can’t be it either.”
When you unpack the scripture behind this text, though, it makes a strong statement of faith and relates beautifully to this week’s Gospel lesson, the parable of the prodigal son. I Samuel 7 begins with a warning by Samuel to the people of Israel to return to the Lord, to put away idols and foreign gods, and to serve the Lord only. The Israelites repented. As the fear of an attack from the Philistines approached, they then asked Samuel to pray to the Lord on their behalf. While Samuel was offering a sacrifice and praying, “the Lord thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were defeated before Israel. Then Samuel took a stone and set it up… and called it Ebenezer (which means “stone of help”), for he said “The Lord has helped us hitherto.”
- Published: 01 April 2019 01 April 2019
- Last Updated: 02 April 2019 02 April 2019
The Trials Of Jesus
Like a courtroom drama, a series of witnesses comes forward to give testimony about their experiences with the accused—Jesus Christ. Through their accounts we come to know the truth, that Jesus came to take our place in the defendant’s chair.
- Ash Wednesday, March 6 - “The Voice of Satan” • Matthew 4:1-11 Jesus faces the tempter in the wilderness.
- Week 1, March 10 - “The Voice of Judas” • Mark 14:16, 32-42 - Jesus’ betrayer defends his actions.
- Week 2, March 17 - “The Voice of Annas” • John 18:12-24 - A chief priest discusses Jesus’ arrest.
- Week 3, March 24 - “The Voice of Caiaphas” • Matthew 26:57-68 - The high priest faces off with the Son of God.
- Week 4, March 31- “The Voice of Peter” • Luke 22:54-62 - Jesus’ bold disciple speaks of his weak faith.
- Week 5, April 7 - “The Voice of Herod” • Luke 23:1-12 One king of the Jews testifies against another.
- Published: 31 March 2019 31 March 2019
- Last Updated: 10 April 2019 10 April 2019
The Lent Service this Wednesday is The Voice of Caiaphas” Matthew 26:57-68 - The high priest faces off with the Son of God. Won't you join us? Service is from 2:00pm to 3:00pm. At the 7:00pm service we will be joined by the University A Cappella Choir.
- Published: 26 March 2019 26 March 2019
- Last Updated: 26 March 2019 26 March 2019