A Word from Pastor
Prayer makes a big difference—I think many of you already know this!
It is one thing to know that someone is praying for you. When I began my ministry career and somebody shared with me a significant struggle, I would often say, “I will be sure to pray for you.” I think this little statement helped and showed that I cared. I would then add the person’s name to my list later.
It is another thing when someone prays for you in the moment. Many of you know that my current prayer practice is to simply pray in the moment when a concern is shared. Words are uplifted immediately. Tears are shed. Relief is not delayed.
But It is a whole other thing to know that Jesus is praying for you in the moment. Matthew 14:22-24 says,
“Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them.”
Is life like a storm for you right now? What else could be thrown your way in these times? A worldwide pandemic that you’ve never seen the likes of before has come your way. As a consequence, your daily routine has been upended. Your plans to see loved ones has changed. You are likely yearning to go back to the calmer weather patterns of four months ago.
Notice that the Scriptures do not promise that life will not have storms. Isn’t it curious the word choice of Matthew 14:22, “Jesus made the disciples get into the boat……”? Did Jesus know that a storm was coming? If so, why would Jesus intentionally send the disciples into trouble?!? The word for made here is translated in other places as compel, force, urge upon, press. I can’t say that I am 100 percent sure what is happening here, but I’ll offer a suggestion.
Jesus was teaching his disciples (and us!) an important lesson. Storms are inevitable in life. But even more to the point, you can always know that Jesus is praying for you in the midst of them. The King of the Universe is speaking up on your behalf. He is urging the Holy Spirit to help you.
Too often we have fixed our eyes on the storms. What a difference it would make if we concentrated on the One who is praying for us. Too often our prayers have become merely lists of the storms happening all around us. That is certainly fine. But what a difference it would make if we prayed this, “Jesus, thank you for taking my needs and requests so seriously. I cling to the promise that you are speaking to the Father on my behalf. Thank you for your love and encouragement.”
Jesus is available for prayer. Romans 8:34 says, “(Jesus) is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” We have the ultimate prayer partner.
In His Hands,
Thoughts from the Vicar
Looking Back and Looking Forward.
Vicar Christian Dollar
Life keeps on going, and church along with it, but that doesn’t mean it is always smooth sailing. If this year has taught me anything, it is to expect the unexpected. Maybe that is what God wanted me to learn during my Vicarage. I have found myself becoming a bit reflective as the end of my time in Philomath approaches. On August 1st I will officially no longer be the Vicar of Peace Lutheran Church. Instead I will transform back into a student at Concordia Seminary St. Louis. As I look back on this previous year, I know there’s been a million ways God has changed, transformed, and surprised me in big and small ways.
A year ago, I never would have guessed I’d spend Vicarage in the little town of Philomath (mainly because I didn’t know the place existed); but, when I arrived in mid-July, I was immediately welcomed. In my first couple of weeks I got to go to the Frolic and Rodeo, eat at the Woodsman and was told why a Beaver is inherently better than a Duck. Throughout the year there has been constant restaurant recommendations, hiking-trail suggestions, and a pile of cards that just keeps growing. At every step of the way you have made Svenja and I feel welcomed and loved: like we were part of the family. Thank you.
Looking forward I see the move back to Missouri. I see textbooks and classrooms. But I also see all the ways I have grown and changed by being a part Peace is this last year. Vicarage is fundamentally about what a congregation does to prepare a student for becoming a pastor, and I feel like I have received so much more from Peace than I have given back. I suppose that’s the way it’s supposed to be. The experiences. The opportunities. I am now not only better equipped to be a pastor because of my time here, but I am a better person as well. Thank you.
This isn’t quite a Good-Bye yet. I am still around until August. But even after all the boxes are packed up and I have moved away, it’s still not quite Good-Bye. Each and everyone of you has a special place in my heart. There will always be a little bit of Peace Lutheran with me wherever I go, because – over this past year – I have become a little piece of Peace. No matter how many miles separate us, we will always be family. Thank you.
“The Grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”
Blood Drive Update
On June 19 Peace Hosted another community blood drive. This time there were 42 units of blood collected with will go on to help 136 people. Such a small amount of time to make such a big impact!
Get ready to be involved with our next blood drives, August 14 and October 16. You can make an appointment to donate online with the Red Cross. You can also talk with Ellen and see how you can volunteer for the day!
Following are the faith statements of three of our confirmands, the other two confirmands were featured back in the May newsletter. All of our confirmands have been waiting to be confirmed since Palm Sunday, the original date of their confirmation. So the last Sunday of June Caleb, Clara, Keihin, Laurel and Sarah get to celebrate with their families! These youth have shown true dedication and faith in their Lord through this time of waiting. Please see their statements:
Keihin – CONFIRMATION VERSE: Deuteronomy 4:29 – But it from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.
WHY I CHOSE THIS VERSE: This means a lot to me getting confirmed. It feels like God is there for me and with me. And he is stuck with me forever.
Sarah – LIFE VERSE: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the holy one of Israel, your savior.” Isaiah 43:2-3
FAITH STATEMENT: God has completely changed my life the past few years. He has given me an identity by calling me his child and has taught me to place my worth in him over other less permanent things. He’s given my life a meaning and a purpose and has been there for me through some really tough times. My faith doesn’t just mean something to me. It means everything, because God has given me everything. He’s blessed me with amazing family, and friends, and has surrounded me with love. He’s given me eternal life through Jesus, his son, and most importantly, has given me a way to know him. Knowing that no matter what happens, he will always be by my side, through the good and the bad, and is greater and more powerful than anything or anyone that I will ever face, gives me courage and strength when I am weak, and gives me hope and light in the darkest parts of life. I know I will never be alone, because he will always be right there next to me, wherever I go. I hope that each day will bring me closer to him.
Laurel – LIFE VERSE: Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
FAITH STATEMENT: Trusting and looking towards God is really important in life. It is especially important when I feel stressed, nervous, or unsure of what is happening around me. Some of these places could be at school, or at home. Another example is worries about someone’s health, big changes, or running out of time to finish a project or doing something.
I can turn to God when I am worried about tests, projects, speeches, and late work at school. School can be really stressful sometimes. Finding my way around a new school, and learning how it works, can be tricky too. Asking God for help can make me feel relaxed and confident.
Right now is a very important time to turn to God because of the virus, and social distancing. It can be really stressful and scary, especially for people who are at risk, if you know someone who is at risk, or somebody who is sick. I, personally, have been nervous about the changes with school, being away from family and friends. I was disappointed to cancel the trip to Bend we were going to take over spring break. In online school we get to continue learning things from earlier and talk to teachers and classmates which can be fun. I think it is also good that we watch church every Sunday. We watch it together as a family, and it’s a routine, and a reminder that we can ask God for help.
Shepherd in Training
The following letter is from Andrew Berg, a seminary student that the Ladies’ Guild is sponsoring. Andrew is about to begin his Vicarage in Michigan – what an exciting time.
Thank you Ladies’ Guild for sponsoring a “Shepherd in Training.”
Making Sunday Worship a Habit
Thoughts from Callie Santora: During this time of staying at home, having my normal world shut down, and trying to figure out what to do with this “gift” of time I received; I found myself creating habits that were probably not the best. No mealtime schedule, sleeping in and staying up late. And of course, easily skipping church on Sundays because – no one would know if I did. Even though I had no distractions or schedule to keep, I found myself making excuses for “not having the time to…” you fill in the blank.
One of the biggest mistakes I made is to skip “doing church.” At first it was pushing it back a couple hours to accommodate a late morning. Then I started saying, “we can do church on Monday” – and it wasn’t long before we realized we had not been to church that week. Often we would make the comment that the recording “just didn’t feel like church.” I don’t know about you, but I just didn’t feel like I was participating, and I found myself wanting to do other things with my Sunday.
This whole scenario got me thinking, I could do a pre-recorded exercise routine and be coached by a yoga instructor or fitness expert and enjoy getting closer to my health goals. Why, then, was I having issues with the recorded service? Isn’t the point of going to church to get closer to God? To learn how to be more like Him? To live in His Word? Why not enjoy being coached by Pastor in God’s message and how to apply that to my spiritual health.
You can see where I am going with this, right? Much like the pre-recorded exercises improved my health and strength; I had to think of our church recordings as an exercise for my soul, strengthening my faith, and gaining a healthy relationship with God. I needed to listen to what the message was saying…not pay attention to the way it was brought to me.
But too late…the bad habit had been set and I needed to change the habit of skipping worship and create the habit of being present for church. To my delight I found this article which spoke to me and I hope it will speak to you. Even if you still on your routine of church and worship perhaps you will feel celebrated. And if you are in the same habit as me, I hope you will find comfort in finding a way to re-create that worship schedule.
Check out the article at the following website or enjoy it printed below:
Five Stages Toward Making Worship a Habit
“I can’t make it to the services because of my work schedule … well maybe sometimes, but I can’t go on Sundays.”
“I get up early all week; Sunday’s the only chance I have to sleep in.”
“It’s so hard to get everyone dressed and ready to go on time.”
“There are so many things happening on the weekends, we don’t have time to go to church.”
“I really do want to go, but something always gets in the way, Satan must be really working overtime to keep me from church.”
Haven’t we all heard these excuses for not going to church? I can relate to the Apostle Paul’s lament in Romans 7:15: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (NIV). Regular worship attendance is a lifestyle made up of several habits which can be changed just like others. For most families, altering the Sunday routine is a major lifestyle change. Understanding how people change can help you move from where you are now to where you know the Holy Spirit is leading you.
People change in five stages: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. Before becoming a Christian a person is in the precontemplation stage. Seeing no need to change, there is no intention of changing. People who are seeking Christ or who have just become Christians are in the contemplation stage. They’re thinking about changing, but haven’t decided yet to change. Whether we’re aware of it or not, we weigh the pros and cons whenever we consider making a lifestyle change. What will be the consequences?
The third stage is preparation. People in this stage have made some early efforts and are collecting information. New Christians are in the preparation stage of making changes in their Sunday morning habits. Unfortunately, even mature Christians get stuck here. We can’t move on to the action stage until we’ve first determined what it will take to change.
When a person has decided to change and determined what it will take, he or she is ready for the action stage. At this point it’s important to remember everything learned in the preparation stage.
The last stage is maintenance. Perhaps many of the more mature Christians I mentioned really aren’t stuck in the preparation stage; they just haven’t reached the maintenance stage. With any habit change, it’s easy to get discouraged when you “fail.” People often give up on a diet when they slip up and regain a couple pounds. In the same way, missing a few Sundays is no reason for giving up on regular church attendance. This is sometimes called relapse. But it’s not relapse unless you never go back to your efforts to change the habit.
Are you and your family trying to make worship a habit? At each stage of change, there are things you can do to help make worship a more significant part of your lifestyle. You must at least be at the contemplation stage or you wouldn’t be reading this article. Start with prayer; ask the Holy Spirit to help you with this lifestyle change. Paul says in Romans 8:26-27, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” (NIV).
List the advantages and disadvantages of regular worship. What are the consequences of changing? Or of not changing? Reviewing these lists will motivate you when you’re tempted to give up on making changes in your lifestyle.
As you move into the preparation stage, gather the family together and brainstorm. What is hindering you from making regular worship a part of your Sunday routine? For every obstacle, discuss at least one solution. For example, if getting everyone dressed in time is a problem, lay clothes out the night before. Turn the television off to avoid distractions and have simple breakfast items ready. Get to bed early enough on Saturday night and set the alarm. If Sunday just doesn’t work, consider finding a Saturday night service. Be creative!
As a family, make a plan. Now you’re ready for the action stage. Put your plan to work. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t have immediate success every week. Any lifestyle change takes time. After all, you’re changing many habits all at once. And for a family, you’re changing the habits of several people. With any change it’s good to make short-term and long-term goals. If you’re only going to church occasionally now, you might want to make going to Sunday school and church three times a month for three months a short-term goal and regular attendance a long-term goal.
At the end of three months, reevaluate your plan and make any necessary changes. Challenge yourself even more. Offer to serve in your church in some way and make another short-term goal. Everyone likes a reward and I think habit and lifestyle changes should be rewarded. When you’ve met your goals, reward yourself and your family in some small way, perhaps with brunch after church at a favorite restaurant. You will find that rewards are built in when it comes to making worship a habit.
As you meet your short-term goal, and make a new short-term goal, you are entering the maintenance stage. It’s easy now to let down your guard. You’ve changed your habits and made a lifestyle change that includes regular worship. But what if job changes, vacation plans, or illness conflicts with worship times? What if one Sunday after another, life just seems to get in the way? Don’t worry about it; just start your lifestyle changes again the following week. Remember, it’s not relapse unless you never go back to your efforts to change a habit or lifestyle.
Cherry Pedrick is the coauthor of The OCD Workbook Second Edtition, The Habit Change Workbook (also in Polish), The BDD Workbook (also in Polish), Helping Your Child with OCD (also in Chinese), and Loving Someone with OCD: New Harbinger Publications; Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Anxiety Disorders: Lerner Publications. You can visit her website at CherryPedrick.com.