Transformed by Grace
November 2017

Romans 12:1-2
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. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Transformed by Grace, Faith and Love

The theme for this year's stewardship emphasis is Transformed by Grace, Faith, and Love. We will begin this emphasis on November 12. As God's people, we have been given the high honor of being his stewards. As his stewards, we are called to manage faithfully all that we've been entrusted with according to God's will and benefit. Because of God's generous gifts of grace, faith, and love, we can accomplish all that God asks us to do. God works in and through us as we become his hands, feet, and mouth. Each week during this three-week emphasis, we will be focusing on one of the three virtues, grace, faith, and love.
In week one, our focus is on God's undeserved kindness and love which the Bible calls grace. God's grace comes from God through Jesus and his work for us. It is not something we have a right to. Jesus obtained it for us. We get it freely because of the obedience and sacrifice of Jesus. This saving grace also enables and motivates us to be God's stewards. The power of God's grace in our lives compels us to use our time, talents, and money in ways that glorify God.
In week two, we are reminded that it is through faith that we have access into God's grace and a new relationship with him. Through faith, God changes us, and we are born anew of him. Not only does faith justify us and give us peace with God (Romans 5:1), we are told by James and other writers that faith produces works (James 2:18).Faith leads to action. Through faith, we are empowered to fulfill God's purposes. Our deeds as stewards are evidence of our faith.
The third week we will focus on the virtue of love. Love ought to follow faith. Love seeks the welfare of others. "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us" (1 John 4:11-12). God's love in Christ will compel us to do things that appear foolish to unbelievers. God's love prompts us to give freely of our time, talents, and treasures to help others and extend his kingdom.
I hope and pray that God will use the sermon messages on Transformed by Grace, Faith, and Love to draw you closer to him. I also urge you to make every effort to attend the Bible studies as we focus on grace, faith, and love.
Pastor Kroonblawd

The call of the Gospel
Each Christian has a two-fold calling. First, the call of the Gospel draws us to Christ. The Holy Spirit gathers us by the Word of Christ. Through the Word of the Gospel, principally through
Baptism, God gathers those who are His own. He brings them into His sheepfold, calling them by name and making them His beloved. Luther captured this well in his explanation to the Third  Article of the Apostles' Creed, where he said that the Holy Spirit "calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth." The Gospel call involves an ingathering of God's children whereby He draws them to Himself.
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 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).  Read entire article
From The Vocation of Every Christian: Life in Christ as a Holy Calling
by By Jacob A. O. Preus III

Facing Job Stress with Resiliency
By Rachel Thompson
Your email inbox alerts you to new messages and your phone rings repeatedly, while the organized piles are scattered across your desk. Your manager walks in to ask if you would be willing to take on another project. 

Or you are a mother at home whose newborn twins won't stop crying and whose toddler won't nap, all while you are a week behind in math lessons with your six-year-old.  

Or you are a church worker, far from family and friends, daily being told by members of your congregation that they may need to cut your salary, all while asking you to teach their children, listen patiently to their troubles and visit their sick and dying.
Job stress is real for all of us. It is overwhelming and infuriating. It is painfully exhausting. It is by the sweat of our brow that we eat bread.

Do Not Be Conformed to This World
By Rosie Adle
Being hip here is not our priority. Looking like everyone else doesn't count for anything.  Any cool kid apart from Christ is not going to be cool forever, and that's a really sad thing. We do not want to be like them. Our own culture, when it is talking and thinking and acting in a way that is contrary to God's Word, should absolutely shock us.  Read more

Freed in Christ
Those who are incarcerated live in a world of stark reality: violating laws can result in very real punishment that separates inmates from their loved ones, takes their basic freedom of movement at will away from them, and the daily regimen of their lives is set by others. Shame, despair and hopelessness run deeply.
The effects of the Gospel in an inmate's life are real. God's forgiveness heals shame and restores value and worth. It lifts despair and gives joy. It removes hopelessness with a future that is secure in Jesus.  Access Freed in Christ Bible study

The Dangers of Complaint
  By the Rev. Richard C. Eyer
That's the danger of complaint. We make ourselves God, and it feels so good and righteous at the time, but it never ends well.  Read entire article

Beautiful Scars
By Timm Heath
You've got wounds, some closed, some still raw and weeping, wounds that time simply can't heal, wounds that will only be healed in the resurrection. That's the inevitable result of being born a broken sinner to a sin-broken world. But because you share Jesus' life, these wounds aren't simply meaningless pain.   Read entire article 

The View from Here: The Wind Is Never Nuetral
by Rev. Jonathan Fisk
"The Church needs to get with the times or die."   "If we don't meet people where they are, then mission won't happen." "Technology is the heart language of the next generation."
Have you ever heard statements like these?  They can be powerful when spoken by well-meaning people, especially when there really is a hurricane of change sweeping the world. Technology is everywhere. Doesn't the Church need to use it in order to survive?    Read entire article

From RightNow Media

Couples come to the altar bursting with love for each other. Yet, based on how many marriages are unfulfilling, unhappy, or worse yet, end in divorce, it would seem that the love that gets couples married isn't enough to keep couples married. Maybe if we had the ability to love unconditionally, like God does, love would be enough...but we don't. Therefore, love falls short. Love isn't enough to save struggling marriages.

This study explores a radical hypothesis:  Most marriages don't fail because they lack love...they fail because they lack grace.  Click for media study.

Too much of today's Christian parenting is based on fear: fear of the world . . . fear of America's liberal culture . . . fear of other parents' and the church's opinions. Best-selling author Dr. Tim Kimmel says fear, "is an excellent way to wreck your kids."

Grace based parenting, on the other hand, relies on God's love, replicates His forgiveness and commitment to His children, and displaces fear as a motivator for every behavior.  

Treasures of Grace
Our Father in heaven has claimed us as His own. By the shedding of His Son's blood, by the His death for our sins and His resurrection for our justification, God the Father has received us back into His family. By water combined with His Word, promise, and name, the Holy Spirit has taken up residence in us. We belong to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is in us, and we are in Him. And being in Him, all things are ours. In Him, we are richly and abundantly blessed.

Our true treasure and wealth is that we belong to the most holy Trinity and everything that is His belongs also to us: righteousness, peace, eternal life. Even our temporal treasures are gifts from His fatherly divine goodness and mercy.
We receive our treasures from Him, and thus, as (good stewards of His varied grace,) (1 Peter 4:10) we manage them in such a way that they may be returned to Him. We bring them to Him, hallowed through prayers of thanksgiving and God's holy Word, as an offering. Thus, all our possessions, as gifts from God, are also offerings to Him, from which we eat to nourish our bodies, share with our family, neighbors, and fellow Christians, with the poor and even our enemies, as holy things given by the holy God. His temporal gifts are blessings to and for us, and bring blessing upon us even as they are pressed into His service for His kingdom and the souls that receive them.
Thus we place all that we have into God's hands, and He never fails to remember us and pours out the fullness of His promises upon us. We give thanks for all that He has done, is doing, and will continue to do. We give thanks by not taking for ourselves, but giving to all even as our heavenly Father has given to us.
As we prepare for the celebrations of Thanksgiving, may we all give thanks continually for all that we are and all that we have because of God's providential care. And may we be all the more diligent in bringing everything that we have received from God to Him, so that He may bless it and employ it for the good of all - even for us. "For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance" (Matthew 13:12). 

Christian Stewardship is the free and joyous activity of the child of God and God's family, the church, in managing (taking care of and using) all of life and life's resources for God's purposes.--LCMS  definition of Christian Stewardship

From the Bible

Deuteronomy 8:3 "...that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD." The flip side to this statement is what Jesus told us about worrying in Matthew 6: 33 "... seek first the Kingdom of God... and all these things will be added unto you."
When we put things in the right order - God, His Kingdom, and His Word first - everything else falls into place.


Do you have a suggested topic for an upcoming TLO Disciple?  Send an email to Pastor Kroonblawd by clicking here.


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.
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Soli Deo gloria

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