I am truly blessed and grateful for the work God is doing in our congregation through His redeemed children. As I work among you, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I see your faith in Christ overflowing in love. Love is faith in action. I appreciate the work of our boards and committees and groups. I appreciate the participation of many in Bible studies and worship. I enjoy seeing so many people committed to the ministry of this congregation. You are giving. You work among one another serving. I see and hear the positive attitudes. And there is love and concern for one another. I am thankful to God for you and your service.
Such acts and service of love reflect the service and love of our Savior, Jesus Christ. There is no greater service and act of love than the sacrifice that God made for us on the cross. St. John tells us that God is love. And God shows us that true love is action. Love does not just say, “I love you.” True love has hands and feet—that is, love is not a feeling, but acts that serve another. The Son of God taking on human flesh and living according to God’s law for us was an act of love. Jesus, giving Himself up to suffering and death on the cross was the greatest act of love. And Jesus being raised on the third day was an act of love which shows His acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice for us and the desire to give us life eternally.
God continually shows love by giving us what we need as His creatures. He put all things in place in creation and sustains them in their ways. The planets run their courses and we have sunshine each day. The seasons continue by the hand of God. God provides rain and sun and all that makes the plants that grow for food for us. God gives life and wisdom to man that he might use his skill to build and to provide services that help fill the needs of others. And for all these things we are thankful.
November brings the wonderful celebration of a national day of thanksgiving. I’m certain that you have heard this before, but hear it again: thanksgiving should be every day, not just once a year. When I think of thanksgiving and of Thanksgiving, I think about rolling out the scroll. I picture a scroll hundreds of feet long with a never ending list of everything to thank God for. I could spend a whole day doing nothing but listing off things that I am thankful for. True thanksgiving, thanking God for all His blessings, is something that will never end. God is so gracious and kind and full of love—and He is willing to act on my behalf. Jesus—on the cross. The Lamb of God sacrificed for my sin is the act of love that deserves our eternal thanks.
I pray you have a month and a time of thanksgiving that recognizes the true Giver of all gifts. The sacrifice of Jesus that saves us from sin and death is the greatest act of love for which we should be eternally thankful. Roll out the scroll and thank God for all His blessings to you. In Christ’s Love, Pastor Toensing
Names. There are some portions of Scripture where there are a lot of names. Each name is for a person that God cares about. God cares about you. God knows your name—you are important and precious to Him. His own name is to be honored and rightly used (see the Second Commandment).
You are important to me. I have been trying to learn your names. I have found that I still need to think on many; some are starting to become second nature. But, if I try to get your name and get it wrong—tell me and correct me. It helps me to get it right sooner. And I do want to get your name right. Some names stick right away. Some—I don’t know why—just take a while. And sometimes I will momentarily forget your name even though I know it. Of course, the more I see you and can call you by name, the better I will get your name.
So, I would be glad to see you in worship often where we receive the precious gifts God delivers to us. God knows you and your name. You are a precious lamb of His flock because of Jesus who brings us into harmony with the Father. As your pastor I look forward to getting to know you, to know you better, to call you by name, and to serve you faithfully as we share the love of Christ together. In Jesus’ name, Pastor Toensing
The summer is coming to an end and boy has it been quite full of events! I have now been among you for three months and it has been exciting to learn about you and to get to know you. Shelley and Steven and I have been warmly received by you all. We have been tremendously blessed by your care and support and sharing of gifts. We are truly grateful for your kindness and generosity.
I am very encouraged by this congregation’s desire to receive the gifts of God in worship and sacrament and study of God’s Word. What a blessing it has been to begin my work here with caring Elders, support and involvement and participation in missions, excited educators in VBS, SS, and Midweek, various groups committed to study and service and mission. There are plans to look to the future and improve the mission and ministry of St. John. And I am blessed to be partnering with you in all of this to God’s glory and the salvation of souls in Jesus Christ. And there is more to do—there will always be more to do. Jesus said, “For you always have the poor with you.” (Mark 14:7) There are the poor in spirit and there are the earthly poor. The mission of Christ is to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10) and the poor in spirit (Matthew 11:5) and to care for those in need. God help us to continue doing what we can to serve one another and to see to the needs of others in the love of Christ.
God bless you for caring for your pastor and his family. I pray that I may serve you faithfully in the Gospel of Christ. And God grant that we expand and grow Christ’s mission to love and teach, to worship and receive God’s gifts, and to share what we have with others. In the love of Christ, Pastor Toensing
At a recent men’s Bible study, we read a passage that was filled with names—most were unfamiliar and hard to pronounce. It was Jeremiah 36. In Matthew chapter one and at the end of Luke chapter 3 you will find genealogies of Jesus with lots of names. If you go to the book of Numbers, such as chapter 26, you find a census was ordered. And there you will find many names and an accounting of the numbers of their clans. Such long lists of names are hard to work through. And you say, “So what?”
Well, they are in the Bible—God’s Word—so that must mean something. It does. God is interested in individuals. God knows all of His children by name and loves every one of them. As you come across such lists of names, consider that God knows your name. He knows you as an individual. He knows you intimately and He loves you—even though He knows everything about you, yet He loves you and wishes to be in communion with you. You are loved by Him and He knows you and He knows your name—you are not a number to God. You are His redeemed child in Christ Jesus. Christ Jesus is the Son of God who came to live, suffer, die and rise again for every single person—for every sinner.
Jesus came to be your individual Savior—yes you—and to bring you into communion with God. God calls you out of sin and calls you to faith in Jesus. As you believe in Jesus, your sins are forgiven, and you are adopted into God’s family to be His own, dearly loved, child. God then knows you intimately. He is able to know every one of His children intimately and individually. That is what all the names in the Bible should tell us. God knows the names of all His children and God knows your name and He loves you in Jesus Christ. God grant that you remain in faith in Jesus Christ as live as the child of God that you are. –Pastor
We cannot begin to express how blessed and warmly welcomed we have felt since accepting the call. Your generosity began before we even moved with contacts and messages welcoming us and offering prayers on our behalf. There was a tremendous amount of work done on the parsonage that helped make it home for us. Since arriving we have been welcomed with an installation service and reception, a tea for Shelley, and filling-the-food-pantry shower. We are grateful not only for your generosity, but for the time and effort put into all of these.
Many of you have reached out personally with a welcome gift or with food; some of you stopped by just checking on things; and a number of you have been helpful in answering our many questions. We are thankful for the help of the trustees with a number of needs at the parsonage since we arrived. To say that we are thankful is an understatement. We are truly humbled and blessed!
Above all we thank God who brought us here and we look forward to working and living among you to worship and serve our Lord Jesus Christ. In humble gratitude, Pastor, Shelley and Steven
Thank you to everyone last Sunday, and over the last two weeks, for welcoming me and my family. Thank you for the gifts of food and the reception following the installation. Most of all, thank you for the warmth and fellowship we share in Christ our Lord. We look forward to getting to know you all, our dear brothers and sisters in Christ. - Pastor, Shelley and family