PASTOR'S PAGE...................................AUGUST 2017

There are three good and legitimate uses of the Lord's law, the curb, mirror and guide. As a curb the Lord's law orders the things of creation and keeps society from chaos. As a mirror the law shows us our sin and our need for Jesus and His mercy and salvation. As a guide the law gives shape to our Christian love for our neighbor. These uses or functions of the law are good and right, they are the reasons that the Lord gave His law to humanity.

But more often than not the law of God is misused. Instead of the Lord using the law on us, we take up the law and use it ourselves, on God or on our neighbor. We could call this the “illegal use of the law”. Here are five examples to consider.

The Cosmetic Use (or the Mary-Kay Use). This is where the law is used to make us look good, all my blemishes are covered up. I dress myself up in outward righteousness so that my neighbor (or worse, God) would say, “My, look at how holy that fellow is!” Jesus calls this the “White-Washed Tomb Use”.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:27-28)

Instead of covering up our sinfulness, the Lord desires that we would confess our sins and hear His promise of forgiveness.

The Pedestal Use. Perhaps the worse misuse of the law, this is where I place myself on a pedestal of good works in order to gain God's approval. This illegal use of the law has people saying, “I know I'll go to heaven. I'm a good person.” But this works-righteousness is called out in the Scriptures:

For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:20)

Rather than lift us up, the law casts us down so that the Gospel can lift us up and give us life.

The Parking Validation Use. How do I know that I'm saved, that I'm a Christian, that the Lord's loves me? Instead of looking to the Gospel and the means of grace, the Parking Validation Use of the Law looks to my works and obedience to

find the answers to these questions. This illegal use of the law looks for comfort and consolation in good works. It is true that our works of love flow from faith, we do not look to the fruit of faith for comfort. To find comfort we look to the source of faith. St Paul excludes this illegal use of the law when he says things like this:

For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh-- though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: … as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. (Philippians 3:3-7)

We, with Paul, put no confidence in the flesh and avoid the Parking Validation Use of the Law. Our confidence is in Christ Jesus and His promise of forgiveness.

Measuring Stick Use. The law always counts and measures. We misuse the law when we use it like a measuring stick to see how much better I am than you. This illegal us of the law is always comparing, putting things in the balance, judging if things are fair, and it is always fixing the scales so that I come out on top. It keeps track of every sin committed against us. This misuse of the law fails to see the planks in our own eye, but sees very clearly the specks in our neighbor's eye. If your goal is to be better than your neighbor, the measuring stick will see to it. Jesus is speaking against this misuse of the Law when He says:

"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. (Matthew 7:1-5)

We apply the law first to ourselves, and we do not measure up. No matter how deep our sin, the Lord's love is deeper still.

The Telescopic Use. A telescope will help you see clearly things that are very far away. When we use the law like a telescope we are examining the sins of others very closely while keeping a safe distance. While this use is similar to the measuring stick use, it is not comparing ourselves with sinners, but avoiding them. This misuse is often found in the pulpit where the law is preached about those “other people out there”, about the worldlings who are dead in sin. The Telescopic Use forgets that we, too, are sinners, that Jesus came to the earth for all of us sinners. The Telescopic Use gives the illusion that there is holiness in distance, in separation, but the Scriptures teach holiness is found in Christ. The Pharisees pull out their telescopes on Jesus, but Jesus destroys them with His parable of repentance.

And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them." So he told them this parable: "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.' Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:2-7)

We are not given to find delight in other people's sin, but rather in the mercy and Love of Jesus.

All of us are experts at misusing the law. This is bad. Each and every misuse of the law steals honor from Christ and comfort from us. But praise be to God, the Holy Spirit wields the law perfectly to us. He convicts us of our sin, even our sin of misusing the law, and then He brings to us the blood of Jesus which cleanses us from every sin.

May the Holy Spirit continue to wield with us His precious law and Gospel, that we would know His joy and peace.

Pastor Wagner

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++First Trinity Lutheran Church Council Meeting Minutes - July 11, 2017

Meeting was called to order by church President Tom Brandt. Pastor Wagner gave an opening devotion with a reading from Luke chapter 16. Minutes of the June council meeting were approved as read.

Russell Behrends presented the Financial Secretary reports and Ron Malchow presented the Treasurers report. Income for the month of June was $6,830.91, expenses $10,748.50, with an ending balance of $18,595.66. Motion was made to accept financial reports by Brent Niemeier. Seconded by Dean Damme. Motion carried. (see reports)

Elders’ Report – Kyle Spilker

  • Next meeting will be Tuesday, August 8th with the Elders Meeting at 7:30 pm and Council at 8:30 pm.

  • Planning an event to honor Carolyn Bennett in celebrating her 35 years as organist with a cake and card shower. A tentative date has been set for Aug. 20th.

  • The health insurance cost will increase $72 per month. It will go from $1852 to $1,924 per month.

Pastor’s Report – Pastor Wagner

  • The average quarterly attendance was 80 people per service. When broken down, it comes to 64 members and 16 visitors. The average number of people who communed was 67. Had an average attendance of 27 in Bible Class. Pastor also noted we had 123 people in attendance on Easter.

  • It was noted that Christmas is on a Monday this year, which would put our normal service in the morning on Sunday with Christmas Eve service in the evening and Christmas service on Monday morning.

  • The new pastor for Zion Harbine and St. Peter’s Wymore, is to be installed August 13th in Wymore.

Trustee’s Report - Jerry Larmeu / Darin Pohlmann

  • Steeple Jacks of America, a company from Ohio, has put a bid in for replacing the cross on top of the steeple. This is the company our insurance company recommended. The cross is wood wrapped with copper. He would like to re-use the halo, ball, and other decorative items from the old one. He would also touch up the paint while he is up replacing the cross. He would like to paint the cross a gold color. The concern was brought up of new copper verses old so would like to see the new cross completely remade if possible and not painted. He requires half of the cost up front before starting. The insurance company has paid us so we could give him the down payment. It would take approximately 1 week to complete once he is here. The insurance company has allowed us $5,000 for removal of 4 trees plus trimming 12 others. We have received one bid for tree removal and clean-up. A second bid is being sought and hope to have by Sunday for the Voter’s meeting.

Stewardship / Board of Education – David Wollenburg

  • They had 15 students at VBS. Approximately 80% of them were non-members.

  • A group of 5 high school youth plus 2 chaperones went to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for volunteer work the last part of June. They are planning to give a presentation over their trip.

  • Sunday school is gearing up to start in September. With the low number of 7 to 10 regulars, the board is looking at combining classes.

  • Judy Haussler has decided to retire from teaching Mid-week. Her service has been very much appreciated.

  • The Elders need to appoint someone to finish Jeff Reynold’s term on the Board of Education. His term would have expired at the end of the year.

Cemetery Sexton – not present

Old Business

  • The bank is asking for more information before issuing the church a credit card.

  • A video camera is being looked into so we can broadcast the service in the school.

New Business

  • Voter’s meeting agenda to include: storm damage, renewal of Coins for Missions.

Motion was made by Kyle Spilker to adjourn, seconded by Jerry Larmeu. Motion carried. Meeting was closed with the Lord’s Prayer. Respectfully submitted by Secretary Dean Damme.

Members present include: Russell Behrends, Tom Brandt, Pastor Wagner, Brent Niemeier, Ron Malchow, Kyle Spilker, David Wollenburg, and Dean Damme.

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First Trinity Lutheran Church Voter’s Meeting Minutes - July 16, 2017

Meeting was called to order by church President Tom Brandt. Pastor Wagner gave an opening devotion with a reading from Luke chapter 15. Minutes of the January Voter’s meeting were approved as read.

Russell Behrends presented the Financial Secretary reports and Ron Malchow presented the Treasurer’s report. Income for the second quarter was $34,2896.84, expenses $37,810.66, with an ending balance of $18,595.66. Motion was made to accept financial reports by Brent Niemeier. Seconded by Jerry Larmeu. Motion carried. (see reports)

Elders’ Report – Brent Niemeier

  • Planning an event to honor Carolyn Bennett in celebrating her 35 years as organist with a cake and card shower. A tentative date has been set for Aug. 20th.

  • The health insurance cost will increase $72 per month. It will go from $1852 to $1,924 per month.

  • Orphan Grain Train fish feed is September 3rd after church.

Pastor’s Report – Pastor Wagner

  • Through the first half of this year we have held funeral services for Erma Johnson and Jeff Reynolds. Confirmed Logan Damme and Madison Wagner on March 19th. Transferred in Ethel Hartman, Carolyn Brott, Arthur and Sarah Morris, James and Carolyn Nelson, Arlene Smith, Matt Brott, and Amy Brott into membership. Released Adrian Brandt from membership.

  • The average quarterly attendance was 80 people per service. When broken down, it comes to 64 members and 16 visitors. The average number of people who communed was 67. Had an average attendance of 27 in Bible Class. Pastor also noted we had 123 people in attendance on Easter.

  • The new pastor for Zion Harbine and St. Peter’s Wymore, is to be installed August 13th in Wymore.

Trustee’s Report - Jerry Larmeu

  • Steeple Jacks of America, a company from Ohio, has put a bid in for replacing the cross on top of the steeple. This is the company our insurance company recommended. The cross is wood wrapped with copper. The work has started and he has found additional damage. The work will take approximately 1 week to complete.

  • The insurance company has allowed us $5,000 for removal of 4 trees plus trimming 12 others. We have received one bid for tree removal and clean-up for $4,500. Second bid came in at $2,500. The second bid is $1,800 to trim the damaged trees, $300 to take down the 4 trees, and $400 to grind the stumps. Motion by Russ Behrends to accept the lower bid. Seconded by Ron Malchow. Motion carried.

  • The insurance company also paid for some of the Wagner’s personal items damaged from the storm including the TV antenna.

Stewardship / Board of Education – David Wollenburg

  • They had 15 students at VBS May 22nd through 26th. Approximately 80% of them were non-members.

  • A group of 5 high school youth plus 2 chaperones went to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for volunteer work the last part of June. They are planning to give a presentation over their trip.

  • Sunday school is gearing up to start in September. With the low number of 7 to 10 regulars, the board is looking at combining classes.

Cemetery Sexton – Walter Neumann

  • Working on updating the cemetery directory.

Old Business

  • The National Historical Society plaque is here. Darin is working on getting it mounted.

  • The Treasurer books passed the audit from January.

New Business

  • According to the Synod District office, our contract for missionary Kristen Lange is up for renewal. All money given to “Coins for Mission” goes towards the interpreter for the deaf with any leftover at the end of the year going to missionary Kristen Lange.

Motion was made by Jerry Larmeu to adjourn, seconded by Ron Malchow. Motion carried. Meeting was closed with the Lord’s Prayer.

There were 23 voting members and 3 guests present. Submitted by Secretary Dean Damme.

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WOMEN'S BIBLE STUDY

Our next Women's Bible Study will be held onTuesday, August 1, 2017 from 9:30 – 11:00 a.m. All ladies of the congregation are invited to attend. Please bring your Bible and a drink!

CATECHISM & MIDWEEK CLASSES

Catechism and Midweek Classes will begin on Wednesday, August 30, 2017. Classes will be held from 6:30 – 7:45 p.m.

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Registered Visitors at First Trinity for June/July 2017 - (Visitors who filled out cards.)

June 25 Eldean/Sharon Adam – Jansen, NE; Rosie Hill – Fairbury, NE; Norbert Meyer – Beatrice, NE; Kay Brown – Beatrice, NE; Jeremiah/Karen, Katie, Lauren & Carter Johnsen – Grand Island; Erik/Jenny Prenosil – Beatrice, NE; Wayne/Vivian Zimmerman – Beatrice, NE; 

July 2 Beth Kuhlmann & Jessica Scholl – Rolla, MO; Anna Ramey – Parkville, MO; Diana & Bailey Bannister – Omaha, NE; Lyle Osborn – Lenexa, KS; Norbert Meyer – Beatrice, NE; Eldean/Sharon Adam – Jansen, NE

July 9 Logan Husa – Beatrice, NE; Norbert Meyer – Beatrice, NE; Kay Brown – Beatrice, NE; Eldean/Sharon Adam – Jansen, NE

July 16 Wayne/Vivian Zimmerman – Beatrice, NE; Ava Pfingsten – Arlington, NE; Rosie Hill – Fairbury, NE; Eldean/Sharon Adam – Jansen, NE; Hallie & Reagan Ryan – Gretna, NE; Norbert Meyer – Beatrice, NE

July 23 Bonnie & Brady Yoder – Omaha, NE; Chris/Leah, Zia, Eli & Mya Humphries – Omaha, NE; Paul/Minnie Koening – Beatrice, NE; Rosie Hill – Fairbury, NE; Norbert Meyer – Beatrice, NE; Eldean/Sharon Adam – Jansen, NE

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Church Income for the Month of June: $6,830.91

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CELEBRATING BIRTHDAYS IN THE MONTH OF AUGUST

Sarah Morris      1            Dillon Damme             17

Marilyn Kite        3           Ethel Hartman            18

Krista Reynolds 3          Rosemary Niemeier 18

Ron Collins          5          Carolyn Bennett          20

Denise McAllister 7     Jim Nelson                      20

Dreyvaughn Garrison 8      Adena Wollenburg 20

Kim Franzen           8                 Joan Burger           22

Betsy Spilker          8                  Shirley Neumann 24

Cameron Meyer 9                   Dean Damme         25

Fred Swartz           10                 Marlene Malchow 26

Kent Cunningham 12            Jane Niemeier          28

Alisyn Wenzbauer 13            Wayne Ossowski   28

THOSE CELEBRATING BAPTISMAL BIRTHDAYS IN THE MONTH OF AUGUST

Jacob Wollenburg      3         Denise McAllister 19

Delores Wollenburg 5          Jerry Larmeu            23

Logan Damme              11        Marilyn Kite            24

Sarah Morris                 12         Rosemary Niemeier 30

Kim Franzen                  18

THOSE CELEBRATING ANNIVERSARIES IN THE MONTH OF AUGUST

Michael/Megan Sothan            2

Tom/Sandra Brandt                       6

David/Rosemary Niemeier       8

Allen/Karen Pfingsten                20

Jim/Carolyn Nelson                      23

 

**If your birthday, baptismal birthday, or anniversary date is missing from our lists, please contact the church office so we can include it next year.

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