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Chris Schneider

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Pastor Chris was born in Rochester, MI. He attended Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, MI and received a degree in communications. In 2011 he felt that God was leading him to go into the ministry, and finally made the decision to attend Concordia Seminary in Saint Louis, where he graduated this past May. He and his wife, Jessica, met while he was leading a small group bible study. They got married in September 2012, and have one son, Noah James. He will be ordained and installed on June 28, 2015.

Pastor Chris was raised in the Lutheran Church, and so he enjoys celebrating Christ’s death and resurrection every single day, but especially on Sunday mornings as God’s people gather together to receive His gifts and to give Him praise. Pastor Chris looks for opportunities to regularly be shaped by God’s word, as well as through Christ’s Church, and he enjoys sharing the love of Christ with all people. 


Grace, Faith, and Scripture a reason to celebrate

Weddings. Birthdays. Anniversaries. Graduations. A job promotion. The birth of a child. Holidays. Sports team victories. Community achievements. What do these all have in common?

While it may be difficult to see how any of these things have a common strand (although the title may have given it away), these are all reasons people come together to celebrate. And as you look at this list, one point becomes very obvious - we are willing to celebrate just about anything. People hold parties and celebrations for almost anything.

Even the most insignificant accomplishment, like a sports team winning a championship or trophy, where we had little to no effect on the eventual outcome, is a valid enough reason to rejoice and celebrate. Why? “It’s a party! Who cares why?” These are good things. Whenever people gather as a community to love, serve, and enjoy their neighbors, this is a wonderful thing (or at least, it can be).

Is Oktoberfest just another one of these occasions to get together to celebrate because we like to enjoy our neighbors? Yes. And no. Yes, it is an opportunity to get together to grow as a community and love, serve, and enjoy our neighbors. No, Oktoberfest is not just like these other parties, because of the reason for the celebration.

The reason we celebrate is because of Grace. Not grace in a generic sense, but grace in the true sense of the word - unmerited favor from God. That’s what we have in Christ, and that is worth coming together to give thanks to God for those riches given to us, His people, as long as we have breath in our lungs, just as the Psalmist says, “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!” (Psalm 150:6).

Faith. That is another reason to celebrate. People can have faith in all kinds of things, but what about a faith that is forever, a faith that lasts, a faith that gives hope to the hopeless, comfort to the grieving, and life to those dead in their sins?

All of this grace and hope has been revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ, and they are written all over the pages of Scripture. God has given His word for His purpose, so that His people would recognize the grace that has been so lavishly given to all and many would come to faith.

Any one of these reasons on their own should give us ample cause for celebration. So, when we combine all three together - grace, faith, and scripture - we find that the Reformation was not just a movement or a change of thinking, but it was a reason to celebrate.

So, call it whatever you would like - Reformationfest, Oktoberfest, or some variation of the two like “Oktoberformationfest” (I kind of like that last one) - but the Reformation happened, and it has had a continual impact on the hearts, lives, and lips of God’s people since grace, faith, and scripture were rediscovered, and because they were rediscovered, the GOSPEL was rediscovered.

So, on October 21st from 12pm-5pm, let’s celebrate this reason, and let us continue to Grow up together as a community of believers in this local church as we love, serve, and enjoy our neighbors.

Your Neighbor,

Pastor Chris

Grace, Faith, and Scripture were the three “solas” of the Reformation. Grace Alone. Faith alone. Scripture Alone. And all of these are realized and understood In Christ Alone.


This is Your Most Important Relationship!

Relationships. We all have them. We value them. We want more time in them.

But, have you ever thought about this question before?—What is your most important relationship? No one likes to play favorites, which is why all your kids are your favorites; you have several best friends. Can you really say which relationship is your most important?

Well, let’s think about that for a second. Your most important relationship should be the one whom you rely on the most. It should be the person who you go to in times of trouble and joy. It should be the one who forgives you even when you have wronged them. It should be the person with whom you desire to make an effort to grow and strengthen that relationship.

Depending on whom you ask, their answer might be a spouse or a family member or a friend or a parent. But, what if I said that none of those are your most important relationship? Yes, they are all wonderful. They are people who have been placed in your life, and you are called to love them. However, your most important relationship is with the One who creates, sustains, and upholds those relationships.

You had to know where this is going! God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is your most important relationship.

The most challenging part of this relationship is that each of us should admit, “I will always be

the one that hurts my relationship with God because of my sin. I will always be the one asking for forgiveness of Him, not the other way around. I will always be the one who needs to make the extra effort, because God has already given His Son.”

So, what should I do? Apologize for the things done wrong. Seek more time with God. Make more of an effort.

Relationships are hard, and they take time, whether that is your relationship with a spouse or a child or a parent or a loved one or a friend. or God. Except, your relationship with God is different because He first established that relationship. Your relationship with God is different because no matter how many times you come back to Him apologizing, He is always ready to forgive. Whenever you “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” as you pray or read His word, “it will be added to you.”

And more than that, Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would come to God’s people to help us seek His kingdom, to cry out in forgiveness, and to come to Him in prayer.

So, how is that most important relationship going? Whether the answer to that question is “good” or “bad” or something in between, there is always room to grow in your relationship with a forgiving and gracious God. It is for that reason that we encourage everyone to Grow in faith together. Why together? Because that is how God has made us - in relationship with one another.

On September 6, we will be starting up our midweek studies - adult small groups, confirmation classes, midweek studies, and more.

Wednesday evenings are all about relationship. The Kindergarten through 4th graders get together, have fun together, and learn about their most important relationship (God) together. Confirmation students (5th through 8th graders) learn and grow in their understanding of God together. Adults get together to study God’s word and to learn about life from one another.

If you have yet to come and experience what Wednesdays are all about, you should (check it out!). You. Your spouse. Your kids. Your grandkids. Why? Because there is something for all ages, and because we believe that when God’s people are regularly in His word together, they are more prepared to answer some of life’s most challenging questions. Additionally, when God’s people are in His word together they are growing in relationship with One another and they are growing in relationship with the One who establishes our earthly relationships.

For adults looking for small groups on Wednesday evenings, here are a few to check out:

-“Broken Crayons Still Color,” a women’s bible study led by Tami Binder and Deb Jenkins, which meets in the Library.

-“Raising Kingdom Kids” led by Tiffany Danley and Jessica Schneider, which meets in the Narthex.

-“God’s Story, Your Story: When His Becomes Yours” led by Pastor Chris, which meets in the large group/small group space downstairs.

Wednesday night matters, because it’s all about relationship - with one another; and with Jesus, the One whom God sent to show His love for the world, so that He might redeem it back to Himself on the cross.

One who is Growing in faith,

Pastor Chris


It Feels Good to Be Lutheran:

A reflection on “Martin Luther: The idea that changed the world”

In the year of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, It Feels Good to Be Lutheran. Here are some reasons why it feels good to be Lutheran.  In October 2017 there will be a Lutheran concert at the Kauffman Center to celebrate with 1,600 other Lutherans. In October, we will also have our own celebration at Beautiful Savior. We will do Bible Studies. We will sing hymns written by Martin Luther.

Yes. It Feels Good to Be Lutheran; but not because of those things, but what those things represent. 

On the same day I attended the movie showing of the newest Martin Luther Film/Documentary (as if there aren’t enough movies or books about this man already), I stumbled across an article about a young man who chose to leave the Lutheran church.

One of the young man’s arguments was that we should be followers of Christ (aka Christians) and not followers of Luther. In other words, instead of having a concert celebrating Lutheran hymns; instead of celebrating the Reformation; instead of doing Bible Studies about Martin Luther; instead of doing all these “Lutheran” things that show we are followers of Luther, we should be followers of Christ.

His question which is a good one, is this: Why do we call ourselves “Lutherans”?  After sitting for an hour and a half watching dozens of experts speak to the life and work of Martin Luther, I discovered this: I longed to know and learn more and more about the faith for which Martin Luther was willing to die.

As the film came to a close, all those watching discovered that “the idea that changed the world” was only partly about Martin Luther. After all, his discovery (if you can even call it that) was one that had been sitting in front of the church for centuries. This “idea” was at the heart of the church since it was first given to the people of God.

First, Paul writes about this discovery in Romans - “16For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17). The reformation, of which Martin Luther was a big part, was about the power of the Gospel, and the power of the Gospel does not have its source in Martin Luther, the Apostles, or any other reformer. The power of the Gospel is the forgiveness of sins through the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus. That power rests on God. That power rests on the truth that God does it for you! In spite of your own unrighteousness, God works.

It is that power that gives God’s people the courage and hope to sing boldly, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” It is that confidence that allows God’s people to come together and celebrate that God does work through sinners like Martin Luther.

The power of the Gospel is real! And Martin Luther didn’t just stumble upon it. God has been writing that in the pages of His Word since the beginning. Before Adam and Eve are cast out of the garden; even before they are punished for their sin, God gives them the power of the Gospel (the Good News of salvation for all who believe). To the serpent God said, “He (the offspring of Eve) shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

Jesus has bruised the head of the enemy - sin (since the fall of Adam and Eve until eternity), death (the grave could not keep the promised Messiah), and the devil (the crushing of the devil will take place on the last day).

The Gospel is powerful, and at the center is the promise that all who believe in the Gospel and its power (the forgiveness of sins) have nothing to fear from this moment until the last day!

Gosh! It feels good to be a Lutheran! And when I say “Lutheran”, I mean it’s good to believe in the Power of the Gospel for all, because that very Gospel is freeing and liberating.

A concert of 1,600 Lutherans, a celebration at Beautiful Savior, singing Lutheran hymns, and doing Bible Studies about Martin Luther . . . they are all there to tell the world that the Gospel of Jesus is alive and well, that it must always be the center of the church, and that there is unity for those who believe in this Jesus, not just in the local church but in the church throughout the ages.

So, as a church and as individual members of the Body of Christ, in honor of Martin Luther, may we desire to grow in our knowledge of “the idea that changed the world.” May we desire to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified, which are written on the pages of God’s word for you.

--Pastor Chris


CHRISTMAS, THE CROSS, AND HOPE

“Christmas?!?” you say. That’s right. Christmas. The incarnation of Jesus (Him taking on flesh) is tied closely to His death and Resurrection. Sure, He came to walk among the people. He came to talk with the people. He came to live and dwell among His people. He also came to die and rise, so that He might be our perfect substitute and the hope of our own resurrection on the last day. Our last “Fear Not” devotion ends on Easter Sunday, April 16, which means we have another opportunity to grow together in the word through daily devotions.

We start two new devotions in the month of April, and they’re both short devotion plans.

Starting Monday, April 17, we have five days of reflecting on Christmas in light of the cross - “Christmas and the Cross: Lenten Video Devotions from Time of Grace.”

Then, we start another new devotion on Saturday, April 22, where we rejoice in the Good News of hope through Jesus’ glorious Resurrection - “Gospel Hope: Devotions from Time of Grace.”

1 Corinthians 15 says, “ 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” You have hope in Jesus, who took on flesh, dwelled among us, and headed for the cross, so that you might believe and be saved.

Hope-filled because of Jesus,

Pastor Chris


“HAVE NO FEAR, _________ is here!”

As part of our Growing in Faith Reading Plan options, we started a new devotion plan on Sunday, February 12, titled “Money Matters: Devotions from Time of Grace, where we looked at money God’s way, and the devotion continues until Tuesday, March 14 (if you didn’t start it on February 12, it is still good to do this devotion). But, on Friday, March 17, we start a new devotion, which is about FEAR. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” The fear that Proverbs is talking about is a healthy kind of fear, one that looks at my sinful condition (i.e. the very things that put Jesus on the cross) and is fearful of God’s wrath. During Lent, we are reminded of the very thing that Jesus died for - my sins! The title of the devotion, though, is “Fear Not: Devotions from Time of Grace.”

There’s a phrase that has been used in comic books, and it goes something like this: “HAVE NO FEAR, ________ is here.” Insert your favorite superhero - Spiderman, Batman, Superman, Underdog (actually, I’m pretty sure Underdog was the first to coin this phrase). But unlike all these superheroes who come out of nowhere to save the day when things are bad, Jesus is there in the good and the bad. He doesn’t wait for things to get bad. He is present with us and for us no matter what. Even when we are unsure of how He is there, He swoops in to save the day, but the saving that Jesus has come to do does not happen over and over. The saving He has come to do was a one-time event. He saved once-for-all.

So, why is it that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge? A healthy fear is one that trusts in the redemptive, finished work of Jesus on the cross now and always, and trusts that God is the only one capable of providing for this. It is a fear that recognizes His power and majesty. Because of Jesus, that kind of fear is really no fear at all. Jesus is the reason NOT TO FEAR. To put it another way, “HAVE NO FEAR, Jesus was, is, and always will be here!” So, trust in Jesus to save the day again.

 

Your Brother In Christ,

Pastor Chris
All the devotions for this year can be found on Bible.com or the YouVersion Bible App.


Serving your neighbor “Is no picnic!” Or maybe it is.

English has plenty of idioms (odd phrases that really make very little sense). One of my favorites is “it’s no picnic,” which is a way of saying that something isn’t going to be very easy.

We sometimes think of service to our neighbor like that, don’t we? “It’s no picnic showing love to my neighbor because they don’t mow their lawn or because they cut me off in the grocery store, or because they said that rude and inconsiderate thing to me the other day.” If you think like that, trust me, you are not the only one.

It’s no picnic. All this is really a way of trying to excuse ourselves from doing some task. Showing love to someone? It’s no picnic. Well, perhaps I won’t do it today. Is that an option? Our sermon series on Galatians touched on this very topic. We are freed for life in the Spirit! Life in the Spirit means that we love our neighbor as ourselves. Period.

Six months have come and gone since we’ve started our Growing up in Every Way campaign. Since then, we have started a reading plan together. We have pledged money towards a capital fund drive to expand some of our ministry here at Beautiful Savior. But, what about service? Sure. We have been serving our neighbor in many ways. We do it every day in the simplest of ways as we “do it unto the least of these” (Matthew 25:40). We also took a skills inventory as a way to think about the ways God has given us gifts.

On Saturday, July 9, we have another opportunity for service. A Church & Community Picnic.

And while a picnic may seem like just another social event because it is in some ways, it is also a way to love your neighbors.

So, come. Let us come together as a community of believers. Invite your friends. Invite your family members. Invite your coworkers. Invite your neighbor because “God so loved the world (and the people in Lee’s Summit, even your neighbor) that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in (Jesus) might not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 - my emphasis added).

This is a way you can serve. It may seem simple because it is! Sometimes God uses things like a simple picnic to teach people about the love of Christ.

A Servant of Christ,

Pastor Chris

 


C3: Christ-Centered Connections

Building Connections in Christ

Christ-Centered Connections. That’s really what the Christian life is all about, so that’s what we’re calling our small group ministry.

19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

We have confidence. Jesus’ Death and Resurrection gives us confidence. It gives such great confidence that we now can do three things. First, so that we can draw near (to God) with a true heart and to be sure and certain of the faith that God has given to us by His grace. Second, so that we can remain steadfast in the confession of our hope of God’s eternal and everlasting promises (past, present, and future). Third, so that we can find ways to continually encourage one another to love God and love one another.

All three are directly linked to one another. In C3 groups, we encourage one another to do those three things.

And these things are best done in relationship. Sharing life together.

Life can be a complicated thing. No matter what stage of life you find yourself, you have your own challenges and your own joys. Sometimes, being a Christian is easy. Most of the time it’s complicated and messy. We don’t always know the ways to act and the ways to conduct ourselves. Most of the time we need a place to discuss the complexities of life and leave encouraged to live out God’s will.

This happens in various ways, including Bible Study, social events, or simply sharing life together.

It is for that reason that we are planning three events with relationships in mind, so that we can continue to encourage one another all the more as we see the day approaching.  This summer, keep your eye out for the following events:

  • June 26 - T-Bones Minor League Baseball Game
  • July 31 - Picnic in the Park
  • August 13 - Stonehaus Winery (must be 21 years or older)

We are interested in one thing. Building Connections with one another that are Christ-Centered (focused on the cross of Jesus and His Resurrection).

If you would like to grow in the area of Bible study through small group ministry, please contact Pastor Chris, and we will get you connected with one of our small group leaders.

 

In Christ,

 

Pastor Chris


GIVEN AND SHED…FOR YOU

 

On any given Sunday at Beautiful Savior (depending on which service you attend), you have the opportunity to share with one another in receiving the forgiveness of sins through Christ’s body and blood.

There is much that can and should be discussed concerning the Sacrament of the Altar. However, since we are going to be celebrating with eighth grade members of our congregation on April 10, I thought I would ask the question that I often think about when it comes to the Lord’s Supper. Am I worthy to receive such a grace-filled gift?

The Apostle Paul says this about this wonderful celebratory meal: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:27).

In an unworthy manner. That makes me go back to the question. Am I truly worthy? More like, “truly sinful.” On my way up to the altar I wish that my thoughts were only of Christ and His once-for-all sacrifice on the cross. Too often they are far less holy. They are concerning my afternoon, the person standing next to me, my week ahead, tasks around the home, and many other trivial thoughts.

As I read Paul’s words it cuts deep to the heart. Where is my heart? Not always on Christ. Often on myself. Mostly sinful.

But what does Luther have to say about this word, “worthy”?

“Fasting and bodily preparation are certainly fine outward training. But that person is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words: “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins” (Martin Luther’s Explanation in the Small Catechism).

Believe in the words “Given and shed…for you.” Believe. Receive.

So, why years of confirmation? Well, first of all, confirmation is about far more than just preparing one to receive the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper is really a culmination of a long process of being taught about the rich faith.

Second, it is not that those who receive on  April 10 did not previously believe. Rather, now they have an opportunity to stand before their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and say, “I believe.”

They are not “worthy to receive” because they have graduated. They are not worthy to receive because they now know everything about the faith. They are worthy to receive because they say, “I believe it is really His body and blood…for me.”

So, come. Celebrate with them. Not on account of their accomplishments, but on account of the faith that God has worked in them since their baptism and they now stand before you and say, “I believe.”

Give thanks! God is always good! Want proof? Look at this wonderful meal prepared…for you.

A fellow worthy believer in Christ,


Pastor Chris


A Life of Service

Paul’s letter to the Romans says this: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1).

Living sacrifices. Hmmm…that’s usually not my first thought in the morning. My first thoughts in the morning typically are geared more toward myself. How am I doing? How is my family? What does my day look like?

The question I should really be asking is, “How do I offer myself as a living sacrifice today?” Those other questions are good, but once I answer that first question the other questions will fall into place.

In his morning prayer, Luther says this:

I thank you my heavenly father through Jesus Christ Your dear Son that you have kept me this night from all harm and danger and I pray that you would keep me from sin and evil, that all my doings in life may please you. For into your hands I commend myself; my body and soul and all things. Let your holy angels be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.

Keep me from evil. But also make my hands and works pleasing to you. Help me to serve my neighbor in the many and various ways that they need my outstretched hands.

My son needs my hands and works. My wife needs my works. My church needs my works. Who in your life needs your works? Do your coworkers, spouse, kids, family members? Or what about your church or community? How are you currently serving, and how can you continue to Grow up in Every Way, even in service?

Sometimes these works are small and mundane, and they don’t seem like ways that I am pleasing God, but they are still important and an important part of living out the Christian life. In these ways we offer our lives as living sacrifices.

Through the month of March we will be talking about service - at home, at work, at Church, and in our local community. We have no greater example of service than Christ, the once-for-all sacrifice.

He chose to serve first. On the Mount of Olives, in His final hours, He prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”  The Father’s answer was a simple, but different one—“This is your cup; this is your act of service; this is your cross!”

The crucified Christ is the once-for-all risen and living sacrifice that has done what we could never have done. It is done. It is finished. My serving at home, work, church, or in the community does not add to or take away from what Christ has done and FINISHED!

When I awake in the morning I have one task - remember my identity as one marked and redeemed by the blood of the Son of God. I am, in fact, already a living sacrifice for God.  Each day I get the opportunity to realize it more fully.

I hope and pray that Luther’s morning prayer is your morning prayer as we go out into the world and serve our neighbor in many ways, because the Lord of Heaven and Earth does not need my works, but my neighbor certainly does!

A fellow Servant of Christ,

Pastor Chris


TIME OF YOUR LIFE

When it comes to time, one thing is certain—we only have so much.  Benjamin Franklin said, “Lost time is never found again.” He’s right. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. This is not a life-changing statement. It is a fact. Yet, if you’re like most normal people, at the end of the day/week/year, you look back and wonder what happened to all that time?! 


On Wednesday nights, beginning January 6, we will be walking through the video series “Time of Your Life” with Andy Stanley. In the first video of the series, he says, “we are almost always, always, always in our culture conscious of time...one of the most common questions, maybe the most common question that you ask about time is, ‘what time is it?’…a better question is, ‘What am I doing with my time?’”

What are you doing with your time? Good question! I am awfully time conscious. If you were to look at my schedule, you would know exactly where I spend my time - an hour here for bible study, an hour there for prayer, two hours for a visit, a half-hour making phone calls, and one hour for my newsletter article  (no, these are not actual times for each of these tasks!). Every minute that goes by, though, I make a decision - do I spend my time doing this or that; visits or bible study; phone calls or prayer? It is not easy, and at the end of the day there are only so many hours, minutes, and seconds; for those who are counting, there are 24 hours, 1440 minutes, 86,400 seconds (I had to look it up). 


It might not feel like it, but that’s a lot of time, and there are a lot of choices that go into every hour, minute, and second. The question, then, that we are going to wrestle with - What are you doing with your time - is an important one for us to ask.
We won’t be asking this question in front of a bunch of people! We will be discussing it with a small group - real people in a real world. As God’s people, we are going to open up His Word and see what He has in store for us.


We want to discover, together, how to have the “Time of [our] life” (i.e. the life that God wants us to live) through faith in Christ Jesus.
Talk with one of our small group leaders today - Joe, Tiffany/Jessica, Joel, Lisa, Deb, Paul, or Lisa - or talk to Pastor Chris about starting a group on Wednesday nights. Get connected. Get involved. Let’s grow up in faith together. 

Pastor Chris


What is This Faith Stuff, anyway?
What does this mean? Third Article of the Creed.

The bible has a lot to say about faith (makes sense, doesn’t it!). You can read plenty of stories that show people trusting God with their lives. The bible has a lot to say about people that have lived by faith. But what does it mean to live by faith? Is faith something that I come to, or is it something that God brings me to? 


This has always been something with which I have struggled. I would like to say that, “on account of all that God has done for me that I would have no other choice than to believe in Jesus.” I want to say that “of course I would believe in God; after all, He sent His Son to be born and die…FOR ME.” I wish I could say, “I believe these things, because I know them to be true.” 


The problem with this logic, is, well, logic. We think we should be able to come to faith on our own, in the same way that I make choices about the clothes I wear, or the way I take to work, or…. It makes sense that choice plays an important role in faith, or at least it seems to make sense. That is, until I begin to think about the ways that I struggle with reason, and the ways that I struggle in my relationship with God. This struggle is not new - not for me and, most likely, not for you either. 


Paul describes his own personal inner struggle in Romans 7 when he says, “15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” 


Where does my logic get me? Disobeying God and His word. What about reason? By my own reason, there are a whole lot of things that I shouldn’t do, but I do anyway, on account of the fact that my inner desire (since birth) is for things that are not God pleasing. 
Luther says it so beautifully in the third article of the creed: “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.” This is not to deny the benefit of reason and wisdom - Proverbs has a LOT to say about both of those things - and after all, God gave me my reason, members, and all my senses (found in the explanation of the first article of the Creed, by the way). 
But, while reason and logic are good, simply put, the cross does not make sense. Period. A king does not belong on a cross, and death should not save; but He does, and it does. 


In order to get beyond that kind of confusion, faith steps in, a faith that comes outside of me. Enter the Holy Spirit. 
The Holy Spirit shows me the Good News (!) and what It means for me. It means that He forgives me every day. It means that He strengthens me and my fellow Christians. It means that the Holy Spirit gives me gifts to serve God every day. It means He keeps me in the faith, because He leaves me wanting to come back to the places where He is at; in Church, where I hear God’s powerful Word; at the altar, where I receive forgiveness as a child of God; through simple water and word, where I am welcomed into His eternal kingdom.
That is faith? Yes, and it is most certainly true. 


            Pastor Chris


Santa THE KING Is Coming!

As I write this, kids all around the world (or, at least the United States) are beginning to write letters that go something like this,

“Dear Santa, I have been very good this year. I get along with my brother (or my sister). I always do my chores when my parents ask me. I do my homework as soon as I get home from school. I think that you should put me on the “nice” list this year - no coal for me. Just in case you’re wondering, I would really like (insert new and exciting toy or gadget) this year for Christmas. Thank you.  P.S. I’ll leave some cookies on the table for you.” 

They begin writing their letters now, because they don’t want to miss out. They don’t want to miss out on the good gifts that Santa is sure to bring. They don’t want that day to come and Santa to forget about them.

One thing becomes abundantly clear in kids’ minds - Santa Claus is coming to town. So, what do they do? They write him a letter or go visit him as he’s ‘making his rounds’ in the local community, they sit on his lap, and they put on their best behavior. They know that Santa is “bringing lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh” (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire; by Nat King Cole), and they know that only the “nice” kids get toys.

So much anticipation. So much excitement. All for one single night.

Often, as New Testament believers, we see Christmas as this singular night, which it is for us. However, for the people of Israel, it was a long-awaited event (my emphasis added): “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9). What a different image. A donkey.

When Santa comes to town, kids feel like they need to be on their best behavior for him because only then will he bring them good gifts. They feel they need to make sure and remind Santa where they live - “103 S. Hampton Blvd.” We would hate to miss out on Santa.

But what about Jesus? Christmas is about Him after all!  When Jesus comes to town, he doesn’t come expecting your best behavior; He doesn’t come expecting you to look and act your best. In fact, He knows the opposite will be true - He knows the true you. Yet, even though He knows that, He still comes to you. He doesn’t bring coal. He brings Himself, the true king.

He knows that when He comes, His reign as King will be short-lived, that many won’t like this king, and that it will end rather suddenly, leaving many wondering about the kind of king He was to begin with. He doesn’t come to change the political structure. He doesn’t come to bring world peace (at least, not yet).

He doesn’t come to do the typical “king-like” things; to such an extent that some will wonder if He is a king at all. He is certainly not your typical king, which makes it all the more special as we wait for him. He’s not bringing toys. He’s not bringing gifts. He doesn’t have reindeer or a sleigh. No. The reason for this king’s arrival is far more significant than things that can be thrown away. 

As kids, we would hate to miss the arrival of Santa. What about the king?

During Advent this year we won’t be talking about how Santa Claus is coming to town. We won’t really mention gifts (at least not your typical gifts). In fact, we won’t really talk about Christmas all that much - not at first anyway. This year we will be talking about the king - the long-awaited King - who comes riding in on a donkey to an unexpected town, in a rather simple and humble way. But that’s really Christmas, and we’ll get there eventually (my guess is that we’ll get there on Christmas Eve J).

Until then, we wait for the king. Until then, much like God’s people that waited for their king, we wait in anticipation for what we know this new king will bring. Let’s begin to tell people about the One that is coming and what He means for us, for our church, for Lee’s Summit, and for the world. Let’s start telling the good news of our king.

 

Because, I don’t know if you’ve heard or not, but THE KING IS COMING!

A servant of Christ,

Pastor Chris

And she gave birth to her firstborn Son and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths and laid Him in a manger,
because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7


WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

The Fifth Commandment? “You are not to kill.”

At first glance, this seems like one of the easiest commandments to “keep,” so to speak. Only in the most desperate and difficult situations would we find ourselves even remotely considering such a grave option, literally!

What is REALLY meant by this commandment, though? Is it murder, or could there be something deeper at the heart? In the Large Catechism, Martin Luther says this – “We must not kill, either by hand, heart, or word, by signs or gestures, or by aiding and abetting,” and “God rightly calls all persons murders who do not offer counsel or assistance to those in need and peril of body and life” (Large Catechism, Fifth Commandment).

In other words, don’t kill; don’t think about killing; don’t think about harming someone else; don’t do anything that would cause your neighbor to do those things as well; don’t support those that do any of these things either.

Lots of “don’ts.” Rather, our desire should be for the encouragement and support of all individuals that fall prey to those that do these evils or those that might find themselves doing, or contemplating doing, these types of evils. What this means is that we are encouraged to be a good neighbor to everyone! We are encouraged to support those around us in every situation, especially those that wish us harm.

Obviously this commandment speaks against our own actions, and the times that we find ourselves wrestling with anger, frustration, hostility, and the like, but this commandment also speaks towards the support for those having the same anger, frustration, and hostility towards others.

This includes, but is not limited to, providing support and encouragement for those in difficult financial situations; or for those considering taking their own life; or for those desiring to hurt or harm their boss, coworker, friend, or family member (or for those whose thought has even crossed their mind)…or for those who are in the midst of an unplanned pregnancy.

Paul talks about this kind of humility, encouragement, and support for one another in the second chapter of Philippians when he says, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” God uses you to work and to do according to His good pleasure, be that in your own life or in the life of the person sitting next to you as you read this.

You are His “workmanship” (Ephesians 2:10). How is God using you to do his work today? Tomorrow? The next day?

                                    A fellow neighbor in Christ,

                                    Pastor Chris


You Are On A Mission!

You are on a mission! Did you know that? Here is your mission (no, this message won’t self-destruct) - you have been called, according to God’s plan and purpose, to follow Jesus. In other words, you are on a mission with God, or really, God is on a mission for the world. But, what on earth does that look like, literally?! That’s what we’re hoping to figure out and answer in our new bible study – the Christian’s Mission.

Throughout God’s word we are reminded of the things that we receive, the way that we are to live, and the way we are to show Christ’s love to the world. In the next 9 weeks we will be discussing what it means to partake in Christ’s mission, as God uses us as instruments and tools to give Him glory and to “Go tell it on the mountain.”

LARGE GROUP/small group

It almost seems like a contradiction when you smash those two words together – large group and small group. They don’t seem to fit well together. Logically, you either have a small group or you have a large group, but you can’t have both, can you? Well, sort of.

So, why would we gather like this? In a culture that is becoming increasingly more and more focused on technology, we miss out on some of the everyday interaction with one another, and those close friendships are often the thing that we find to be missing. In God’s word we read that it’s good for us to remain in the habit of meeting with one another - growing friendships, keeping those friendships, and talking about “what it means to be a faithful Christian” is important because it’s not always easy. We want to ask those difficult questions so that we can grow closer to God and grow closer to each other.

Beginning Wednesday, September 2nd @ 6:30pm, we want to continue answering that question among one another in small groups, and we want to support, encourage, and strengthen one another for this daily walk of faith, through the good and bad times, as we get to know one another.

Is this JUST a social event then? Not at all! Just as it is good for us to gather and talk about our journey of faith in small groups, it’s also good to talk about how that journey applies to everyday Christian life, because God has a direction for your life, and that direction is centered on JESUS – His life, death and resurrection!

Bold NEW Format

So, we’re trying something new, and these new Wednesday nights are for you, no matter what age you are! We will start each Wednesday off with an  a la carte dinner starting at 5:30pm; then we will move into our new midweek studies at 6:30pm; and we will close every evening in prayer together; and if you don’t think we have something for you, think again…

We have childcare for the young ones; midweek studies for those in kindergarten through 4th grade; confirmation class for those in 5th through 8th grade (this is where the youth get together and begin exploring our faith as Lutherans); a high school bible study; a MOMSnext group (which is a group of moms that get together and talk about different topics for parenting); and now an adult bible study, so Don’t miss it!

If you’ve been looking for a way to get connected and stay connected, here it is! It all starts on Wednesday, September 2nd, beginning at 6:30pm. Come check it out!

If you are looking for a small group or to get connected with any of our midweek ministry opportunities, email (pastorchris@beautifulsavior-lsmo.org) or call (269-275-1945), and we’ll make sure to get you plugged in! Or, feel free to show up and join a group. If you can’t make it every week, that’s ok – we’d love to have you join whenever you can.

 

A Servant of Christ,

 

Pastor Chris


ANOTHER YEAR OF LEARNING BEGINS

It’s that time of year again. No, I’m not talking about the seasons, nor am I referring to baseball’s postseason (which is in fact coming rather quickly). I am actually talking about the beginning of the school year, which begins in just a few short weeks – and with it another year of learning for all ages. Yay!
    Learning is such an integral part of our society, and it begins at an early age. As I continue to watch my son, Noah, grow up (and rather fast, I might add), a harsh reality begins to set in – he is always learning. He is learning how to move his hands and mouth and feet. He is learning how to gain the attention of his parents by making noises. He is learning how to think. 
    What about you? Are you still learning? I would say, “yes.” Regardless of whether or not you are trying to learn, it is still happening. Dr. Seuss says it like this, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go” (By the way, can you tell that I have a small child at home?). Okay. Okay, enough with Dr. Seuss; what does the real expert have to say about learning? Moses gives this command to God’s people, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deut. 6:6-9). 
    The real question isn’t whether or not you ARE learning, because you are. The question becomes what are you learning, and how are you learning it? For many of us, learning happens without us knowing it as we peruse the Internet - pick your poison on that one, because there are all kinds of information covering all kinds of topics (sports, weather, blogs, articles, opinions), and deciding which one is real or true can be very frustrating. For others it is through books – some fiction, some fact. For others, we avoid it all together, hoping that we can just take our minds off of learning for a second, but it still happens. 
    In the fall our community here at Beautiful Savior makes a strong commitment to teach and learn together – we have wonderful opportunities for each one of us to gather and learn together the things that we should certainly be learning and in the right ways.
    For middle schoolers we have confirmation, where kids get the opportunity to truly understand what this thing we call “faith” and “Christianity” is all about; for younger children we have some opportunities for them to get together and build relationships with one another in meaningful ways and have fun; for high schoolers we have a Bible study group that comes together to address significant issues and topics that help to navigate life; for adults there are various small group Bible study opportunities, and this fall we will beginning a new large group/small group Bible study. 
    Regardless of age, learning is an important part of who you are, and what a better way to change, shape, and mold yourself into the image of Christ as you become connected with His word and with His church. Get connected this fall. Join us as we follow Jesus together.
Proverbs 1:5 - Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance,
A Servant of Christ,


Pastor Chris


The “New Guy”

 

To some extent, no one likes being the new guy at work. There’s just something about going to a place with which you are unfamiliar and having to figure it all out. After all, there are so many things to get used to. It’s a new place with new people, where you have to develop a new routine.

Despite the fact that being the “new guy” can have its challenging moments, there are some great things. For the most part we like new things. New cars. New toys. New houses. New friends. We embrace new things.

What about the Bible? Has the Apostle Paul ever been the “new guy”?  One of the greatest preachers and teachers for the early Christian church was, in fact, the new guy at one point during his ministry.

In his letter to the Galatians, as he was trying to encourage them to believe the things that he was writing, he said, “I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus.18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. 20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie” (Galatians 1:17-20).

You see, Paul was the new guy for a while, but before he was able to do any ministry he had to wait. And even after all of that, he had to build trust with the disciples because they wanted to make sure that what Paul was saying was faithful.

Sound familiar?

Before an LCMS pastor can be called to serve at a congregation (i.e. Beautiful Savior) he must attend the seminary, go on a vicarage, go back to the seminary for a final year, and THEN he can receive a call from a congregation.

In other words, he needs to WAIT to make sure that what he is saying is accurate. He needs to wait to make sure that he is going to be faithful. Then, he goes to the congregation as the “new guy” so that people can begin to build relationships and trust.

So, is being the new guy a bad thing? Certainly not! Perhaps being the new guy gives me an opportunity to start slow, build deep relationships, and to learn from the people who have already been here preaching, teaching, and learning about Jesus.

Maybe being the new guy isn’t so bad after all! Thank you, Beautiful Savior, for calling me to be your “new guy.”

Paul gives this direction, though, to the church in Galatia, 10Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” I have one request – be my guide and hold me accountable in this way. Make sure that I am doing everything for God, and not for men. Help me be the servant of Christ that you have called me to be, the kind of servant that you DESERVE!

A Servant of Christ,

Pastor Chris