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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Growing Together as a Church Family - Part IV: "Resting On What is Important"

As we conclude our newsletter series "Growing Together as a Church Family" we end on an important note. In the book, "Connected to Christ: Why Membership Matters", Peter Speckhard writes,
"it isn't the appeal of the furniture but their function in bringing the gifts of God's grace in Word and Sacrament that matter. It isn't the personality of the pastor that really matters but his official role and function as the one who delivers God's gifts. If you have them, be thankful for a beautiful altar and a pastor you like personally. But don't confuse the beauty of the altar with the importance of what rests upon it, and don't confuse your friendship with the pastor with the importance of what he is there to give you" [pg. 89]

This is an important quote that reminds me daily of why I have been called to serve you. As your pastor, there are times when I honestly forget the "importance of what rests upon it". Its easy to think that our personalities or talents actually bring something to the table. But honestly, it doesn't. My mentor would always say to me, "continue to preach, teach and administer the sacraments, that is what you are called to do". Or as Jesus would say to Peter, "Feed my lambs" [Jn21]. It's simple, delivering God's gifts through word and sacrament ministry. Ultimately, it is to trust in the power and promise of God's gracious Word.

And to all at Faith Moorpark, it is simple as well. We grow together as we receive the Word and Sacrament. We grow together as we rest upon His word that delivers the sacrificial gifts in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is by His work we are saved! [Eph2:8-9]. Baptism saves [1Pet3:21], the Lord's Supper forgives [Mt26; Mk14; Lk22; 1Cor11] and we rejoice together by grace through faith. Yet how easy it is to "major in the minors". And soon enough, rather than growing together in the word and sacraments, we become focused all the unimportant things. The beauty of the church furniture, the personality of the pastor, the amenities, the programs, etc etc etc. All the meanwhile, our eyes are taken away from what is true and life giving.

But remember, we come together as a group of broken sinners [Mt11:28]. It is the Lord who restores our souls as He guides us to the still waters and the green pastures of His Word [Ps23]. I know, it's nothing new under the sun. Not a slick message, or an innovative approach, but we simply rest upon what is important and true. There, we reside in the blessed gifts of our Lord.

As the days, months, years and decades go by, we will continue to grow in the one true faith. I pray that we may all rejoice together in the gracious work of the death and resurrection of our Lord. Yes, we fall short. Yes, we are sinners. Yet the Lord says, "Fear not, I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, and you are mine" [Is43]. Let us continue to grow, grow and grow together as we rest upon the important things: His truth, His promises, and His gifts-the Word and Sacrament!

Be careful of the scorching sun!

Have a blessed August!

✝️ Pastor Jeong

The full newsletter can be found here:
http://www.faithmoorpark.com/files/pdf/2019/2019-08-Newsletter.pdf

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Growing Together as a Church Family - Part III: Tithing

"Theologically, tithing helps us understand our lives as a matter of stewardship and realize the thanks we ought to give for all God's gifts in our lives. It also encourages us to learn more and more to walk by faith. Tithing is our way of recognizing that all we have comes from God. [Speckhard, Connected to Christ: Why Membership Matters, 72].

From Leviticus 27:30, "Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord's it is holy to the Lord". Indeed, everything is of the Lord. As we confess the Apostles Creed, or even pray the fourth petition, "Give us this day our daily bread", we are reminded that God is the provider of all things. Even Abram in Genesis 14, gave the priest of God Most High [Melchizedek] "a tenth of everything" as a thank offering to the Merciful Lord for His gracious protection.

In the New Testament, the story of the widow's offering [Mark 12:41-44] reveals her faith in the Lord. "For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on". The cheerful giver [2Cor9:7] is one whose faith trusts in God as the provider of all things. Yet, at times, we are tempted by the material possessions that possess us. And rather than joyfully giving our first fruits, we give with a burdensome and legalistic heart.

"Tithing also expresses faith in God's providence, that is, trust that God will always provide. Let's face it, at first, ten percent seems like an awful lot of money...Tithing helps us learn to trust, to go by faith rather than by sight. If you go by sight, you'll quickly conclude that tithing is impossible-at least for you. But then you meet people who do it and find out they are like you...it is a far greater blessing than we can conceive until we start trying to do it" [Speckhard, 73].

When I was younger, I remember when I thought ten percent was "an awful lot of money". But now, as we prepare offering each week, I prayerfully thank the Lord for all that He has done and continues to do in every facet of our lives. Yes, there are times when we clench the wallet or purse, as the tempting voice says, "mine, mine, mine!" or when the covetous heart desires more for itself than anything else. But we pray that the Lord will give us a heart of faith that cheerfully gives in the name of the Lord.

For young families, I encourage you to teach your children the gift of giving. That is, to instruct them on how to use their weekly salary/allowance to give to church every week. What a wonderful habit that teaches the children that all things come from the Lord.

But all in all, it is through your tithes and offerings that we are able to continue with Word and Sacrament ministry as well as continuing to be the beacon of light to our community and to all the world. Whether it is to keep the property operationally safe and sound, or meeting the needs of the community, the Lord provides as we continue to walk together as a body of Christ. Go! Thank the Lord! And give joyfully!

May you have a blessed July!

✝️ Pastor Jeong

The full newsletter can be found here:
http://www.faithmoorpark.com/files/pdf/2019/2019-07-Newsletter.pdf

Faith Lutheran Church • 123 Park Lane • Moorpark, CA 93021 • (805) 532 1049 • Send Email