“Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.” (Hebrews 12:2)
Have you ever tried to balance a pole or stick on the palm of your hand? My brothers and I when we were younger would have contests to see who could balance certain objects like a baseball bat or a rake or a broom or basically whatever object we could find on our hands the longest. I know – that seems like a pretty boring game, but this was in the prehistoric age before there were video games and cable TV. We had to make our own fun. But back to my game -- What is the best way to balance something on your hand? You need to (no you have to) look at the top of the object that you are trying to balance. You can’t look at your hand or at some other part of the object or it is going to fall over. You have to focus on the top and be very, very focused. If you don’t believe me go give it a try.
By now some of you might be asking, Pastor, what has this got to do with my life as a Christian? The writer to the Hebrews has some wonderful words for us today, “Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.” As we live our lives on this earth, it is kind of like balancing the objects I was talking about before. We need to always keep our faith focused on Jesus.
This week is Holy Week and we will have the opportunity to be in God’s house for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. This week it will much easier for us to focus on Jesus. How can you not focus on Jesus as we watch Jesus’ last few days and hours as he gave his life on the cross for our sins? How can we not focus on Jesus as we look into the empty tomb and see that Jesus has risen from the dead and the payment for our sins is sure and complete?
But what about next week or next month or 6 months from now? Will we still be fixing our eyes of faith on Jesus or will we begin to be distracted? Back to the balancing game that my brothers and I played. Part of the strategy was that we would always try and distract the other person by trying to get them to lose their concentration or by telling them to look at something – hoping that they would stop looking at the top of the object and it would fall. Isn’t that exactly what the devil is doing in our lives? He spends every minute of every day trying to get us to look away from Jesus. He will do anything to distract us so that we will fall with the ultimate goal of trying to get us to fall away forever.
How does the devil do this? One of his best distractions is the things and stuff of our beautiful world. At times we are focusing too much of our attention on things that don’t really matter, like binge watching the latest thing on Netflix or carting our kids around to every activity under the sun or putting in too many hours at work so that we can get a bigger house or car or whatever else we think is important. While none of these things are wrong or bad, if they cause us to lose our focus on Jesus, then we need to remember our words for today, “Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.”
I would like to say I was always the best in the balancing competition among my brothers, but I won some and I lost some. It is the same in our daily lives as Christians. There are days our faith is really strong and is “fixed in on Jesus” and there are days that we are distracted and we aren’t even thinking about Jesus. Let us every day and especially this Holy Week “keep our eyes fixed on Jesus” as we humbly kneel at the foot of the cross and confess our sins – trusting that Jesus did come and did forgive us and has given each of us the assurance that all our sins are all forgiven. May we always fix our eyes of faith on Jesus and his perfect life and death so that we may enjoy the true joy and peace that God has given to us. God’s blessings to you this Holy Week!
— Pastor Gartner
Join us for our Holy Week Services:
April 18 Maundy Thursday - Take and Eat; Take and Drink (10:30 am and 6:30 pm with Lord's Supper)
April 19 Good Friday - It Is Finished (1:30 pm and 6:30 pm with Lord's Supper)
April 21 Easter - Death Has Been Swallowed Up In Victory (6:30, 9:00 and 10:45)
Easter Breakfast (7:30 - 8:30)
(Note: No worship service on the Monday Night after Easter)
Holy Week Devotions
Some of the Professors at MLC have written some devotions for your Holy Week meditation. You may access them at this link.
Note: There will be no Sunday morning Class the next three Sundays. Classes will resume again on May 12. On Sunday mornings, Pastor Frey is leading a study on the first 11 chapters of Genesis—an important and interesting portion of Scripture.
Pastor Gartner will continue his Monday/Tuesday class, entitled, "What Must I Do To Be Saved -- A Study of God's Gospel and the Words The Holy Spirit Uses To Proclaim It."
Sunday April 28 at around 9:00 am, we will have the public examination for the 15 young people who will be Confirmed this year. Everyone is invited to hear these young people publicly state the things that they believe as it was taught to them in God's Word over the past three years in Catechism Class. It is a good review for us who have been confirmed and it’s always good to witness the power of the Holy Spirit as these young people express their faith through their answers.
Updates From April Voter’s Meeting
1. Our pipe organ is in need of repairs. We currently have a quote for $20,000 and are currently exploring all our options. 2. The council is suggesting a number of changes to our current by-laws, including removing and adding certain council positions. A copy of the by-laws with the proposed changes (highlighted in red) is available in the back of Church. If you have comments, questions or input for either of these items, please talk to one of the pastors or the council members.
The Pioneers will meet Sunday, April 28 at 2:00 pm in the church basement to paint dried gourd birdhouses. Please dress your child in old clothes for this activity. You may contact Sarah Ziesemer with any questions.
Adopt-A-Highway and Church Work Day
Saturday April 27 (weather permitting) beginning at 9:00 am, we will have a Church work day to clean up the property and we will also clean our portion of the highway for Adopt-a-Highway. Please sign up on the sheet in the back of Church if you can even come for a portion of the day to help out.
We also want to clean the inside of church. There is a sheet in the entry way listing areas to be cleaned in the church. (1) You may clean any time during the week of the 22nd or 29th. (2) Just sign your name next to the area you will clean. (3) Mark the area when it is cleaned. This is a good time for fellowship and getting to know our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Since November 2017 for the lessons during our worship services we have been using the Evangelical Heritage Version (EHV) translation of the Bible. This is a translation produced by the Wartburg Project, a group of WELS and ELS pastors and professors. The entire Bible is now complete and will be published this summer. You now have an opportunity to preorder this Bible at a discounted bulk-rate price (the exact price will depend on how many Bibles are sign-up for). There is no need to pay right away; once we know the exact price per Bible we will inform those who have signed-up and how to pay for their order.
There is a sign-up sheet on the back counter if you wish to order a new EHV. There are also 100 pamphlets on the back for more information on this new translation. Although we highly encourage you to pick up a copy of this Bible, you should also be aware that the Wartburg Project plans on publishing a study Bible in the next couple of years. For more information, please talk to Pastor Frey or Pastor Gartner.
To learn more about the EHV, click here: https://online.nph.net/ehv?utm_source=pastor-newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=spring-resources-0319
To view an electronic version of the informational pamphlet, click here: https://online.nph.net/media/documents/EHV-Handout.pdf?utm_source=general-newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=ehv-preorder-0219
To view a sample of the translation, click here: https://online.nph.net/media/SampleFiles/PDF/0105000.pdf?utm_source=pastor-newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=spring-resources-0319