Messenger Of Grace – May

by | May 1, 2018

May 2018

PRAYING IS GOOD!

It is hard to imagine a less controversial statement, at least among Christians and other people who believe in God or a god. Prayer is one of the most basic things humans, who have a sense of the infinite, will do.

God tells us in his Word that only certain people are heard, however. First, God only listens to those who direct their prayers to him in faith.  Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6). The Lord heard Elijah’s prayer on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18). He did not heed the prayers of the 450 prophets of Baal, who cried to their false god, even though they prayed more loudly and, it seemed, more fervently. Jesus tells us we are to pray “in his name” (Jn 16:23), that is, trusting in him.

Sin gets in the way of our prayers being heard, like a wall separating us from God. Only if our sins are forgiven through faith can we be sure of God’s answers to our prayers.

Children of God can pray about everything that is on our minds and hearts. First Timothy 2:1: I urge then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made for everyone. Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything…present your requests to God.

God invites us to pray. He even gives us prayers that he loves to hear us use. One hundred and fifty Psalms are prayers God wrote for us to use. Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer, saying, “When you pray, say, Our Father, who art in heaven…” He warns us not to babble repetitively or to use nonsense sounds like the pagans, and he says we ought not pray for show, to impress people. But he welcomes our prayers, whether we pray from the heart in our own words, or a psalm or a prayer inspired by God himself or composed by others. When Pastors pray publicly and lead the congregation, it is my opinion that it is generally better to read a prayer, or at least to have an idea of what you are going to say in advance. That way, you don’t say “Father-God, we just…” too many times.

But I encourage all of us to get comfortable praying in our own words, from the heart. Make use of that skill often! Constantly, even!

It is one of the most wonderful privileges you have as a child of God, whose sins are forgiven through faith in Jesus Christ.

DMW


AS A CALLED SERVANT OF CHRIST AND BY HIS AUTHORITY, I FORGIVE YOU ALL YOUR SINS…”

Those familiar words from the Common Service are very important words, but they are also often misunderstood. Forgiveness comes from God, and the question is often asked, “How can a human forgive sins?”

Good and fair question. Let’s examine some Scriptures. It is true that only God can forgive sins against God. I can only forgive sins that are committed against me. You can forgive sins committed against you. All sins are against God.

Yet Jesus gave the special power and right he called “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” to his disciples. He says, “Whatever you loose (untie, release) on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Mt. 16:19). Even more specific, Matthew quotes Jesus saying, “I am sending you…. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven” (John 20:23).

That doesn’t mean I can just forgive or withhold forgiveness based on my own feelings or whims. It is God’s forgiveness, not mine, to give. We follow his rules. He says we forgive those who repent. We cannot announce forgiveness to those who refuse to repent. In the Common Service, when the pastor announces forgiveness after the corporate confession of sins, the forgiveness extends to the penitent only.

Matthew 16 and 18, John 20, 1 John 1, and 2 Corinthians 2 are some New Testament chapters that encourage us to confess our sins to God and to each other. David confessed to Nathan (2 Samuel 12) and Nathan announced God’s forgiveness.

You do not need to confess your sins out loud to anyone to be forgiven. God knows your heart. But he has given us an extra way to receive emphatic assurance of forgiveness if we need it. There is power in the activity of confession and in receiving the announcement of forgiveness “out loud.”

The perfect life and innocent death of Christ on the cross is the cause of our forgiveness. The Word of God and the administration of the sacraments are the means by which this forgiveness becomes our own.

Pastors are available to hear confessions and announce absolution (forgiveness). This is done in strict confidence (secrecy). Forgiveness is announced immediately to one who repents, no matter what the past sin is.

DMW


SACRED CONFESSIONAL CONFIDENCE

When the pastor hears the confession of a sinner, this confession is not to be revealed. The confession is strictly protected by Scriptural standard and by the laws of the United States.

This extends to every confessor and every penitent. I know of a case from about 30 years ago where a man was standing trial for murder. It was rumored that he had confessed his guilt to his pastor. The pastor was questioned by the authorities and refused to comment. It was understood that this confessional confidence was sacred. Even after this man was convicted, the pastor kept his mouth shut.

What about those hard cases where the crime is of great harm and the situation is highly emotionally charged? Even then, and especially then, the pastor must keep quiet. What can the pastor do? If possible, the pastor will convince the penitent to “turn himself in” or reveal his guilt to the people he has hurt. The pastor will encourage him to show “fruits of repentance,” paying back or compensating anyone who was hurt.

If a penitent sinner reveals that he has an overwhelming compulsion to hurt people, say, for example, a pedophile who says he cannot stop and will harm a child again, what will the pastor do? In such difficult cases, the pastor will need to follow the penitent closely, provide whatever support he needs to avoid that sin in the future, and make it somehow impossible for him to hurt anyone.

This can be done by insisting the penitent get help. Anyone who is truly repentant will not refuse help to prevent such behavior. In the case of imminent danger, the pastor will need to keep close contact to protect the innocent.

But those are extreme cases. The most important thing is that all sinners who repent feel confident that the act of confessing sin to the pastor is safe and that the confessional is sacred.

DMW


Durable Medical Equipment Collection Event & Open House–  your “unused’ crutches, walkers and wheelchairs will be refurbished by Giving Children Hope and sent to those in need around the world. Rob Burns & Jay Huckabone invite you to stop by for an Open House, enjoy lunch, and tour the many opportunities available to you with Thrivent Financial on Saturday May 5, from 11:30-1:30. Open House takes place at 1215 Imperial Hwy. #102, Brea. Questions? Please call 714-525-4360.

CHURCH WEBSITE: www.gracelutheran.churchCheck out the church website! You can find the weekly sermons, both written and audio, the weekly Bible readings, and the current bulletin for those who would like to follow along electronically. Well, you already know this, because your here. Good for you!

Please Pray For:

  • The family of Midge Ballard, sister of Virginia Hayden, who died Sunday, April 29. Pray for Virginia as she spends time with family and helps to settle her sister’s final arrangements in Kentucky
  • Judy Ehlers Blaylock (sister in law of Elizabeth Ehlers), cancer
  • Andrew and Liz Cifranic, expecting a baby in June
  • Blake and Jackie Corry, expecting a baby in September
  • Tanya DeLong, cancer treatments
  • Dustin Firsted, nephew in law of Tanya DeLong, Navy
  • Carol Ford, on hospice
  • June Heckenlaible, homebound
  • Maxine Heitshusen, homebound
  • Carol Hubbard, homebound
  • Bob Krueger, homebound
  • Kathe Lind, homebound
  • Robert Lupo and Sarab Korail, who will be married July 20
  • Wayne and Annette Madsen, homebound
  • Dolores Poorman, homebound
  • Jim Smithling, hospice
  • Hulda Stoppelmann, homebound
  • Austin Wagenknecht and Lydia Harbach, engaged to be married August 4, 2018; Lydia is teaching in Africa until May 18.
  • Bethany Wagenknecht, who will be serving in Lusaka, Zambia, at the WELS Medical Mission beginning May 18.
  • Don Wulf, recently diagnosed with lymphoma

Please Pray For:

  • The family of Midge Ballard, sister of Virginia Hayden, who died Sunday, April 29. Pray for Virginia as she spends time with family and helps to settle her sister’s final arrangements in Kentucky
  • Judy Ehlers Blaylock (sister in law of Elizabeth Ehlers), cancer
  • Andrew and Liz Cifranic, expecting a baby in June
  • Blake and Jackie Corry, expecting a baby in September
  • Tanya DeLong, cancer treatments
  • Dustin Firsted, nephew in law of Tanya DeLong, Navy
  • Carol Ford, on hospice
  • June Heckenlaible, homebound
  • Maxine Heitshusen, homebound
  • Carol Hubbard, homebound
  • Bob Krueger, homebound
  • Kathe Lind, homebound
  • Robert Lupo and Sarab Korail, who will be married July 20
  • Wayne and Annette Madsen, homebound
  • Dolores Poorman, homebound
  • Jim Smithling, hospice
  • Hulda Stoppelmann, homebound
  • Austin Wagenknecht and Lydia Harbach, engaged to be married August 4, 2018; Lydia is teaching in Africa until May 18.
  • Bethany Wagenknecht, who will be serving in Lusaka, Zambia, at the WELS Medical Mission beginning May 18.
  • Don Wulf, recently diagnosed with lymphoma

The Messenger Of Grace is published monthly by Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church. To subscribe, or be removed from our mailing list, you may contact us at one of the following:

• ph: 714-779-2384
• web: Contact Us

To submit articles or announcements, please email to the same address. We are a member of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod because we share its beliefs and support its worldwide mission. Pastor Daniel M. Wagenknecht 714-779-5239 or 714-624-9001

May Birthdays & Anniversaries

Birthdays

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
1- Rob Krueger
3- Laurie Gill
5- Francis Rich
6- Elizabeth Ehlers
7- Sandy Smithling
14- JB Bell
16- Andrew Quebe
16- Wendy Moy
18- Dan Wagenknecht
21- Heidi Jenkin
21- Annette Madsen
24- Garrett Challacombe
26- DeLyn Wagenknecht
27- Barbara Wagner
28- Ed Dowler
29- Connie Bauman
31- Allen Hokenson
31- Jessica Patterson

Anniversaries

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!
11-Francis and Susan Rich
23- John and Heidi Jenkin

Member News

Welcome new members:

Steve DeLong
22160 Kayenta Rd.
Apple Valley, CA 92308

Josh Foley
1500 Cherry St.
Placentia, CA 92870

Farewell to the Hoods:
Phil and Janette have transferred to Rock of Ages Lutheran Church, Madison, Tennessee. We wish them the best in their new home and their new congregation.

Synod News

SISTER CONGREGATIONS GETTING NEW PASTORS

Our Savior Lutheran in Pomona is excited to welcome Pastor Ethan Cherney, who accepted their call and will move from St. Paul, Green Bay, WI. His installation will be August 5.

Crown of Life, which has campuses in Corona, Yucaipa, Riverside, and, soon, Victorville, is excited to welcome Pastor Eric Hansen, who accepted their call and will move from St. Mark, DePere, WI. Crown of Life is also seeking a graduate from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary to fill their staff.

USHER SCHEDULE

May 6: Moy, McCauley          

May 13: Bauman, Krueger     

May 20: Van Keirsbelk, Bell  

May 27: McClelland, Foley    

June 3:  Vandiver, Leigh’s

June 10: Hurst, Bell

June 17: Rymas, Paul Vogt

June 24: Moy, McCauley

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