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A Reformation Abbreviation

"A Reformation Abbreviation" - The Pastor's Windshield for Sunday, October 30, 2022

Churches abound with abbreviations for their ministries. For example, our church body, The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, is usually referred to by its abbreviation: LCMS. I wonder if you’ve heard of this abbreviation: VDMA. Any guesses about this one? VDMA is tricky because it’s an abbreviation of a Latin phrase: Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum, which means, “The Word of the Lord Endures Forever.” 
“VDMA” is a motto that dates back around 500 years to the Lutheran Reformation, but it originally comes from the Lord’s Word in Isaiah 40:8. It is referenced again in 1 Peter 1:23-25: “You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for ‘All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.’ And this word is the good news that was preached to you.” 
Can you see why Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum became such a rallying cry for the Reformers? “VDMA” was printed in the preface to the original Book of Concord, the Confessions of the Lutheran Church. Here is a little more background from the most recent edition of the Book of Concord: “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum is the motto of the Lutheran Reformation, a confident expression of the enduring power and authority of God’s Word … It first appeared in the court of Frederick the Wise in 1522. He had it sewn onto the right sleeve of the court’s official clothing, which was worn by prince and servant alike. It was used by Frederick’s successors … It became the official motto of the Smalcaldic League and was used on flags, banners, swords, and uniforms as a symbol of the unity of the Lutheran laity who struggled to defend their beliefs, communities, families, and lives against those who were intent on destroying them.” (Concordia p. 2)
Lutheran laypeople in the 16th and 17th centuries literally had to fight to protect their families and communities from the armies of the Holy Roman Empire which violently opposed the Reformation. Their motto reminded them that they were ultimately not bound to the human words of the Pope or Emperor but to the Lord’s Word, which Luther and other reformers had begun to restore to its proper place in the life of the church. 
“The Word of the Lord Endures Forever” is just as fitting of a motto for Christian laypeople and pastors today as it was centuries ago. Though much has changed in 500 years, and certainly in the past several thousand years since the Lord’s Word was recorded for us, God’s scriptural promises have not changed. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Your Lord Jesus is just as faithful to you today as He was to His people in ages past and you can count on Him and His Word, even when everything else fails you!
The enduring Word from the Lord is especially the Gospel – His Good News for you. We hear this in the passage from 1 Peter referenced earlier: “You have been born again … through the living and abiding word of God … and this word is the good news that was preached to you.” 
God’s Good News of forgiveness and life overcomes even sin and death. God’s Word declares that you are His baptized child, born again and born “from above” by Christ’s saving work on your behalf. God’s Gospel Word has also powerfully worked in your heart to create and sustain saving faith in Christ within you. The Lord and His Gospel Word rightly deserve all the credit and glory for doing everything for us and our salvation!
In our ever-changing world, we stand together on God’s unchanging foundation, a message handed down from biblical times, to the time of the Reformation, to our time today: The Word of the Lord Endures Forever!
Peace in Christ,
                  Pastor Kory Janneke

True Wisdom

"True Wisdom" - The Pastor's Windshield for Sunday, October 2, 2022

On the wall of my office hangs a wooden plaque which was made by an extended family member in the 1970s. On it is inscribed this Bible verse: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). While I never knew the particular family member who made this plaque, I’m grateful that he made it and that it has been passed down in my family. What an important message it conveys to younger generations!
We recently began a new Wednesday morning Bible study. You’re welcome to join us on upcoming Wednesdays at 10AM as we study the book or Proverbs. The theme verse of Proverbs is very similar to the one cited above: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). While in 31 chapters the book of Proverbs covers many topics and situations, the practical wisdom it offers is secondary to its primary message: God calls upon His people to fear Him.
What does this mean? Fearing the Lord isn’t cowering at the thought of Him – although we should certainly take our Almighty God seriously. Instead, positively, it’s approaching Him with awe and respect. God deserves no less, considering that He is the Creator of all things! We fear the Lord because He is our Lord and Judge and we will give an account of our lives to Him.
But there are other layers of meaning to fearing the Lord. We hear in Proverbs 14:26-27, “He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death.” More than a fear of God’s power and judgment, this is a faithful fear of God in view of His love and mercy. This point is made even stronger in Psalm 130:4, a verse which is sometimes included in our order of confession and absolution: “With You is forgiveness; therefore You are feared.” Because God chooses to grant us forgiveness through His Son, we have all the more reason to regard Him with reverent fear and wonder. 
Proverbs 28:13-14 tells us, “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Blessed is the man who always fears the Lord.” Faithfully fearing the Lord isn’t something that drives us away from Him, concealing our sins and afraid to approach Him. Instead, because we fear Him, we’ll admit our sins and seek His forgiveness and trust His mercy.
You may remember how Martin Luther explained the meaning of the 10 Commandments, especially the First Commandment, “You shall have no other gods.” Luther said this means that “We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.” In our sinful condition, we daily fail to do this. We’d prefer to be our own gods. Thanks be to God, though, that He sent His Son Jesus to deliver us from our idolatry, sin, and death! 
As redeemed Christians, we still seek to follow God’s good will for our lives by fearing, loving, and trusting Him not only as we relate to Him but also as we relate to our neighbors. I’ve sometimes used a bicycle wheel as an illustration of the Commandments. The First Commandment is like the hub – the center. The other Commandments are like the spokes, connected to and flowing out of our relationship with the Lord. 
The same applies to wisdom. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, the hub. Living in reverent faith toward the Lord is true wisdom. Flowing from that are all the other facets and details of wisdom. The book of Proverbs shares words of wisdom about family, finances, work, speech, and more. As we seek to grow and learn in these practical areas of wisdom, we bear in mind the theme of Proverbs: nothing is more important than fearing, loving, and trusting the Lord. In Him and in relationship to Him we live in the God-given wisdom of faith.
Peace in Christ,
                  Pastor Kory Janneke

Diet and Exercise

"Diet & Exercise" - The Pastor's Windshield for Sunday, August 14, 2022

I’m neither a dietician nor a personal trainer. I know that it’s good to avoid eating too much sugar and that it’s important to stay physically active each day. I know that a poor diet and an inactive lifestyle makes us more likely to get sick and be diagnosed with chronic illness. Beyond that, I’ll leave the specifics to those who are smarter than me. 
Eating a healthy diet and getting regular physical exercise are part of how we care for the physical bodies the Lord has given us. However, “diet and exercise” are also how we tend our souls, our life of faith. 
When He was tempted by the devil to turn stones in the desert into filling loaves of bread, Jesus responded by quoting God’s Word from Deuteronomy 8:3, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). At a time when Jesus was physically starving, He still drew strength from God’s soul-sustaining words in the Old Testament.
Life is more than something maintained by physical nourishment. Spiritual life and eternal life are given and sustained by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God.
In your physical diet, you take in everything from little snacks to regular meals to memorable feasts. In your spiritual diet, you also feed on God’s Word in both big and small ways. A daily devotional practice feeds you a few bites of Scripture as you begin your day or pause during the day to hear from the Lord. (If you would like any recommendations from me of devotional resources, please let me know!)
The Sunday service feeds you a balanced meal of God’s Word, both His Law and His Gospel, through the liturgy, Scripture readings, hymns, and sermon. The service culminates in literally eating and drinking Christ’s own body and blood in His Sacrament of Communion.
Occasionally there are worship services that are more like a memorable feast: Christmas Eve, Easter sunrise, a church anniversary celebration, and other seasonal services may leave you with lasting memories and refrains that get stuck in your head!
However, you won’t remember every single devotion you read or worship service or Bible study you participate in, just as you don’t remember every meal or bite of food. Some will resonate more than others. More importantly, the steady diet of God’s Word that you take in will feed your faith and help you grow as a child of God. Each time you receive God’s Word and the Lord’s Supper, you get to “Taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Psalm 34:8)
But exercise also has its place! St. Paul writes, “Train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance.” (1 Timothy 4:7-9) In his book Grace Upon Grace, Theologian John Kleinig comments on this passage, “The secret for the regular exercise of spirituality, as with physical fitness, is to establish simple habits and practices that are embedded in our normal routines.” (p. 54)
In addition to exercising your faith by making devotional reading of Scripture, Bible study, and Sunday worship part of your regular routine, you also exercise your faith through your prayer habits. For example, when you pause to pray at meals, you remember that both your daily bread and all that you have comes from the Lord. He hears your simple prayers and blesses you with His presence.
Morning and evening are also fitting times for us to exercise our faith through prayer. Says Kleinig again, “It is wise for us to be briefed by Him each morning and debrief with Him at the end of the day … In the morning we ask God for His direction and provision for us in our work; in the evening we thank Him for His provision and seek His pardon for our wrongdoings. In this way we receive each day as a gift from God and hand it back as our daily offering to Him.” (p. 56) (Please see below for prayers you can incorporate into your devotional routine.)
May the Holy Spirit fill your spiritual diet with God’s Word and lead you in exercising your faith through prayer and godly living!
Peace in Christ,
                  Pastor Kory Janneke

Morning Prayers:

I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.
O Lord, our heavenly Father, almighty and everlasting God, You have safely brought us to the beginning of this day. Defend us in the same with Your mighty power and grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger, but that all our doings, being ordered by Your governance, may be righteous in Your sight; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Evening Prayers:

I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have graciously kept me this day; and I pray that You would forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me this night. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.
Be present, merciful God, and protect us through the hours of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of life may find our rest in You; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
O Lord, support us all the day long of this troubled life, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes and the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then, Lord, in Your mercy grant us a safe lodging and a holy rest and peace at the last; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Meal Prayers:

Come Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let these gifts to us be blessed. Amen.
Oh, give thanks unto the Lord for He is good and His mercy endures forever. Amen.
“The eyes of all look to You, o Lord, and You give them their food at the proper time. You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.” (Psalm 145:15-16)
Lord God, heavenly Father, bless us and these Your gifts which we receive from Your bountiful goodness, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
(Returning Thanks) We thank You, Lord God, heavenly Father, for all Your benefits, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen. 

Prayers for Hearing God’s Word:

Blessed Lord, You have caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning. Grant that we may so hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that, by patience and comfort of Your holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Lord, we thank You that You have taught us what You would have us believe and do. Help us, by Your Holy Spirit, for the sake of Jesus Christ, to hold fast Your Word, in hearts which You have cleansed, that thereby we may be made strong in faith, and perfect in holiness, and be comforted in life, and in death. Amen.

Prayer for Courage:

Lord God, You have called Your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go but only that Your hand is leading us and Your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.