All Things New
January 2019

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Happy New Year! As we say farewell to 2018, we recall joys and sorrows, good times and bad, that have impacted us personally, within our family, congregation, community, and throughout the world. In them all, our Lord was with us. And as we usher in the New Year, we pray the Lord will continue to shower His grace and love in us and through us.
From the beginning of the world, God created from nothing by the power of His spoken Word. When God said, "Let there be light" (Gen. 1:3), there was light. When God said, "Let there be a firmament" (Gen. 1:6), it was so.
This month's TLO Disciple is focused on the theme All Things New. Rev. 21:5 says, "And He that sat upon the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new.' In Isaiah 43:19, we see God speaking very similar words, "Behold, I make new things." Through the prophet Isaiah, God promised Israel that one day God will create a new heaven and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17).
As we usher out the old year in bring in the New Year, let us also by faith hold on to the hope that is ours in Christ. When Christ our Redeemer returns, the words of Isaiah will be fulfilled. The one who won salvation for us and who now sits on the throne will make all things new. When Christ returns heaven and earth will be transformed. In the new heaven and the new earth there will be no night, for the Lamb will be its lamp. There will be no more sin, no more crying, no more pain, no more death. For the old order of things will pass away, and the new will come. On the day of Christ's return there will be unending joy.
Pastor James Kroonblawd

By Rev. Ken Klaus
And He who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." And He said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment." Revelation 21:5-6
It is always a joy to visit with parochial school teachers.

They are always filled with so many delightful stories and insights, which they have harvested from the little ones who have been placed into their charge.

I remember not so long ago I was talking with a retired parochial school teacher about forgiveness. She told me the story of a third-grade class years ago. During the course of her assignments to them, she had asked them to write a one-sentence definition of forgiveness. There were many answers supplied, but it is one student's answer that has stayed with her.

That student wrote, "Forgiveness is like meeting someone for the first time."

Not seeing an immediate connection, the teacher asked the young boy just what he meant.

It didn't take him too long to explain. He said, "Well, when you meet somebody for the first time, there is nothing that person could have done or not done to make you upset or disappointed with him. That's why I think forgiveness is like meeting someone for the first time. When God sees us, there's nothing about us to upset Him, disappoint Him, or make Him angry with us."

That young man had an incredibly deep understanding of our blood-bought forgiveness.

Indeed, God says the same thing.

In the book of Revelation He tells us that because of Jesus He is making all things new. That would include a new heaven and a new earth, but it would also mean those souls who are part of the new heaven and earth are also transformed and new.

Washed in the blood of the Lamb they have stood before the judgment throne of God and been declared innocent of all wrongdoing. That is not, of course, because they are so good or perfect. They aren't -- not on their own. It is because their sins, which were scarlet, have been washed by Jesus' blood. Because of His sacrifice they are now seen to be as white as snow.

Or, as our young lad put it: because of Jesus, our Heavenly Father meets us for the first time.

And just for the record that's the way we ought to see others whom we forgive. We need to see them for the first time, too.

We need to see them without any spot or blemish.

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, for the forgiveness Jesus has given me, I give thanks. Now, because I have been made new, I no longer need fear You or Your judgment. Today, I also ask for the ability to forgive others as completely as I have been forgiven. Let me see them, too, as being new. In Jesus I ask it. Amen. 

In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Ken Klaus
Speaker, emeritus, Lutheran Hour

StewardCAST Newsletter - God Pleasing Resolutions
What's more, our  New Year's resolutions often fail to address the things that are really wrong in our lives. A resolution to exercise can ...   Read more.

What does it mean to be a Christian?
  There are, perhaps, many ways to answer that question. We could say something like, "Being a Christian means believing in Jesus or accepting him as our Savior," or "Being a Christian means seeking and doing God's will in our lives," or, "Being a Christian means loving God and our neighbors." All of these have value and capture at least a part of what it means to be a Christian. But, is there not a better way to capture the essence of what it means to be a Christian, without making it sound like it all depends on us or what we do?
One way of speaking about what it means to be a Christian is to think of the Christian life as a calling: We are called by the Gospel to faith in Christ and through and from that Gospel we are called to a life of love and service. Now, to think of our lives in Christ in terms of a holy calling means that we should think of our lives as having, you might say, a certain directionality or movement.
The Christian life is never static; it is never going nowhere. And this is because the Word through which God calls His children, that Gospel Word, is a transformational Word. It does not leave us unchanged, indeed, it cannot, for it is a Word saturated with and energized by the living Spirit of God. It is dynamic. It is a living Word, which, as Isaiah says, "goes out ... it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish" (Is. 55:11) what the Lord intends.
In this respect, the Word of the Gospel (as the Word of God in general) is unlike human words. Human words, powerful though they may be, are merely descriptive. They describe; they give names to things that already exist. God's Word, on the other hand, is not merely descriptive, it is performative, it performs, it does what it says. It brings things into being that are not. God uses His Word to create ex nihilo, out of nothing. He simply speaks things into being.
So, the Word of God is not static. Rather, it is vibrant, active, productive; alive with the power and Spirit of the God who is alive and who through His Word gives life. So, the Gospel Word has an impulse about it, a thrust, you might say. It "goes forth." It gathers and it sends. It draws and disperses. It draws Christ's own to Him, by His Word, and gathers them around His Word. And it sends His own out into the world, dispersing them, with His Word on their lips and His love in their hearts. There is a two-fold thrust, therefore, about the Gospel - inward and outward, gathering and sending, drawing and dispersing; a two-fold calling.
And this Word affects every aspect of our lives in Christ and in His Spirit. Although sin lingers in the believer throughout his or her entire earthly life, and, at times, seems to get the upper hand, what the Gospel brings about is, as Paul says, "A new creation. The old has passed away" (2 Cor. 5:17). The Gospel has that kind 4 | The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod of transforming power: to bring to life what was dead. Through the Gospel in Baptism, the believer is incorporated into Christ: "We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life," Paul writes to the Romans (Rom. 6:4).
So, in a unique and mysterious way, the Gospel calls us in, it draws us into Christ, to live in Him through faith and to undergo a real transformation. There is no part of us that is unaffected by this transforming Word; no part that we can reserve as our own; nothing that we would wish to continue in the old way, to hold back from that new thing Christ engenders in us. For, "we are [God's] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus ... " (Eph. 2:10).
The Vocation of Every Christian: Life in Christ as a Holy Calling
By Jacob A.O. Preus III

Hope for the hopeless in the New Year
by Matthew V. Moss
Call me cynical, or just call me a Lutheran of Germanic descent, but beneath all the confetti, binge drinking and wild parties of our culture's New Year's celebrations I sense something depressing lurking. No, I'm not talking about those half-mournful, half-celebratory tributes to all the celebrities we've "lost" i n the past twelve months, though those can be quite useful reminders that we are all mortal, even the best and brightest stars among us. 
Alas, I am talking about the sheer hopelessness that drives many of our resolutions - and the pessimistic joking about how long it will take for us to fail at them. 

Five Things the Church Wishes the Culture Understood
By Rev. J. Patrick Niles
  1. We want you here - Really. We do. However, the reason might surprise you. It is not to boost the average age of the worshiping community to give us more "street cred." It is not so that we can have your money. It is not so that we can legitimize our existence. As a matter of fact, the reason that we want you here has nothing to do with us. It has everything to do with you.
  2. We are not better than you. However, we do have the same struggles as you do.Namely, we struggle with sin. No, dear culture, we are not better than you. But that is why we are here every Sunday. We seek to be forgiven for the times when we do not act like Christ. And we are. We are forgiven and renewed by Christ, and that makes all the difference. You do not want us to judge you by your checkered-past of sins? Why would you judge us by ours?
  3. The church is for sinners of whom we are the worst The church exists to proclaim the Gospel. It exists to proclaim that you are a sinner, but you are a forgiven sinner when repentant. Why would you exclude yourself from that because you are surrounded by other sinners? The blood of Christ is for us. The blood of Christ is for you. We beg you, come-for your sake, not ours.
  4. The church is bigger than you. This is the part that you might not like to hear, but it is the truth. The church is not about you, your preferences or your tastes. The church is about Jesus. 
  5. We will always be here . . . and so will Christ. For you. Thank you for your concern about our demise. However, throughout the entirety of the Scriptures, the Lord has promised that the pure preaching and teaching of His Word will not vanish from the earth. There will always be a remnant who live in and proclaim the forgiveness of Christ. It might not always look the same or be the same size. But it will always exist. 
If you are legitimately searching, I pray you find a biblical, confessional, Lutheran congregation in which to abide. For in that place you will find the true and pure preaching and teaching of the Word of God. You also find Christ who gives Himself for you every time you come. Please, come, not for our sake, but for yours.
The Rev. J. Patrick Niles is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Hilbert, Wisc.

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God's Prescription for Happiness
Rev. Martin S. Sommer
This column is from Jan. 1, 1935
Delight yourself in the Lord, and your best days are yet to come. This wonderful God, who made heaven and earth, is going to create a new heaven and a new earth, in which dwelleth righteousness. The Holy City, the new Jerusalem, is coming down from God out of heaven. God Himself will dwell with us, God Himself "shall wipe away all tears from our eyes; there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away" (Rev. 21:4).
Believe this, and you will be happy in the new year, let come what will. For who that believes these things could be unhappy?
Let therefore this new year bring what it may, that almighty God who has power over all things, whom nothing can resist, will see to it infallibly that all things, whatever may happen, must work together for our good. He Himself is preparing a place for us. There will be no regrets there. Everything will be just as it should be, and there will be no interruption of our joys. It is just a little while, and in that little while there may be some sorrow, some tears, some battles, and some unreasonable fears; but let hell and Satan rage all they will, there will be no weapon that can conquer the arms of the Lord; there is no enchantment and no divination against God's people. Believe it because God, who cannot lie, has told you: "I give unto them eternal life; ... neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand" (John 10:28).  

Jesus isn't the rebel you think He is
by Joshua Theilen
Jesus is also not a stuffy square who simply wants things to remain as they have always been. The only ideal past that he calls humanity back to is the Garden of Eden, pre-fall, where Adam and Eve lived under God's perfect rule. "Behold," he says "I am making all things new" (Rev. 21:5).
There is no culture in the history of the world that dare remain as it is in the face of God's law and the call to repentance. No person can remain the same either. Yet we are to turn back to God, not to some idealized history. Jesus is not upholding the past, but the Word of God. He does not call us to a romanticized past, but to the foot of His Cross.
Caricatures of Jesus can never suffice. Shoehorning Him into one of our cultural boxes strips the Lord of the weight of His authority and glory. Doing so, we lose sight of who Jesus really is. He is not a rebel, nor a square, waging some endless culture war. He is the rightful King of the universe to whom all powers, cultures and individuals must bow. 

The Rev. Joshua Theilen is director of Camp CILCA in Central Illinois.    

KFUO Thy Strong Word
Revelation 21 "The New Heaven and New Earth"
Hosted by Rev. Will Weedon.
With guest Rev. Andy Jagow of Bethany Lutheran Church in Alexandria, VA.
Click to hear an in-depth study of the books of the Bible with host Pastor William Weedon and guest pastors from across the country. Thy Strong Word is graciously underwritten by the Lutheran Heritage Foundation and produced by the LCMS Office of National Mission.

All Things New
Are you considering leading a women's Bible study? Here's one option of a study based on 2 Corinthians titled "All Things New" by Christian author Kelly Minter. According to promotional material, the book and eight-part DVD explore issues including "opening wide your heart in the midst of hurtful relationships" and "what it means to embrace the lost and lonely as ministers of the new covenant."

Sex, Gender and Identity
Rev. Scott Stiegemeyer
The world can be a very confusing place. Jesus even said that the devil is the ruler of this fallen order, so of course it's a confusing place. The devil is a deceiver. He is the Father of lies. When he lies, he is speaking his native language. He wants you to be baffled about things that matter. Sexual design is an important part of human life because marriage is a visual representation of the relationship between Christ and His Bride, the church. The devil will do whatever he can do to distort that image. He does not want people to see Christ and His Bride.
Sometimes people describe feeling like they have the wrong body. When this feeling is intense and lasts a long time, it is called gender dysphoria. A person can experience gender dysphoria in varying degrees, from mild to extreme....
If you or someone you know is suffering from gender dysphoria, love them. Show them the kind of mercy that God has shown all of us in Christ. It's never okay to bully or mock someone. Talk with him about how he feels. Let her know that you won't reject her. Encourage him to talk to his pastor. Pray for him and with him. Sometimes people become so overwhelmed that they think of harming themselves. Take this very seriously. If you think a friend is suicidal, tell an authority and get help.
In the new creation, men and women are being restored and perfected and glorified. Jesus said, " Behold, I make all things new." This newness is something that belongs to us right now, though you and I won't experience the full benefit of it until Christ comes again. But rejoice! A day is coming soon when we will be free of all the disorder and distortion that plague us now.

Rev. Scott Stiegemeyer is Assistant Professor of Theology & Director of Ministerial Formation at Concordia University Irvine's Christ College.

I challenge you to read the Bible
by Matthew C. Harrison
Friedrich Pfotenhauer was president of the LCMS from 1911 to 1935. In 1897, on the 50th anniversary of the Synod, he was president of the Minnesota and Dakota District. He said the following to the gathered district pastors and laypeople:
Finally, we have cause to celebrate our synodical jubilee with fear and trembling when we glance at the present condition of our Synod. It is true, we still have the very precious treasure, the pure Word of God. As a rule, it still governs our congregations, but it cannot be denied that we are no longer what our fathers were. Indeed, the symptoms of the decline are evident and increasing among us. I will only point out a few. The holy zeal to study and grow in God's Word has declined markedly among both preachers and hearers. The boundary between us and the world is no longer drawn so sharply."
Every great era of reform in the Church's life has begun with the cry to repentance, and "Back to the Bible!"
  • Can we be sure of Christ, forgiveness and eternal life? Back to the Bible! (1 John 4:1-4)
  • How shall we treat each other in the Church? Back to the Bible! (1 Corinthians 13)
  • Shall we share the Word of the Gospel with others? Back to the Bible! (Luke 19:10)
  • How shall we hold up under suffering and ill health? Back to the Bible! (Romans 5; Hebrews 12; 1 Peter 1)
There is no problem of faith, life, family or Church for which the Bible does not have answers. As we move toward the Synod's 175 th anniversary in 2022, let's be people of the Bible.


Do you have a suggested topic for an upcoming TLO Disciple?  Click here to send Pastor Kroonblawd an email.

TLO Disciple, with a topical study in each issue, is distributed primarily via email on the first of every month.  Print copies are available by contacting the TLO Church office at 651-454-7235 or the Church Office via email.
Calendars, volunteer information, serving groups and the like will accompany the TLO Together, on the last Wednesday of the month. Click here to subscribe to TLO Together .  This publication is also mailed upon request.

Soli Deo gloria

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