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Pastor’s Corner

Elements in Christian Worship

By Pastor Wayne Bernau,   Immanuel Lutheran

              What kind of expectations should you have for your pastor?  Let’s explore briefly what the duties of a pastor are, as spelled out in God’s Word.

            Pastors are to be shepherds and caretakers of the flock of God that is under their care.  Their main duty and prayer is that their people will know God personally by sincere faith and will serve God and others faithfully in Christian love.  They want their people to have a good conscience as they prepare to meet their God.  As undersheperds of the Good Shepherd Jesus Christ, pastors lead and feed the lambs and sheep commended to their care.

            Pastors are entrusted with the care of souls.  They seek to know as much as possible about those they serve.  The ministry of visitation is vital to knowing and meeting the needs of the congregation.  As they visit with members, they share joys, but also hear confession of sins and extend God’s forgiveness, give good counsel from God’s Word, and offer comfort, encouragement, and hope.

            Of course, a key part of ministry is reading, teaching, and preaching God’s Word.  Listen to these bits of advice that St. Paul gave to his young pastor friend, Timothy.  “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.”  (I Timothy 4:13)  “I give you this charge:  Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.”  (II Timothy 4:2) 

           It is crucial that pastors accurately, clearly, and faithfully share God’s Word, since that is the main means by which the Holy Spirit calls people to faith in Jesus and grows and sustains that precious faith.

           Pastors are to be good examples of how Christian faith is lived out in family, in the church, and in the world.  People want to see their pastor practice what they preach.  They readily note the pastor’s life of love, speech, prayer, godliness, patience, humility, worship, and how their faith affects the difficulties they face.  Obviously, no pastor is perfect, and so pastors need to constantly point people to the perfect Savior that God has given us in His dear Son, Jesus.

           Pastors frequently pray for and with their members.  Without prayer, we would be left to fend for ourselves in many trying situations.  What a privilege to carry every burden and care to our Lord in prayer!  And a big part of ministry involves being filled with God’s Spirit, whom we receive from God when we pray.

          Pastors are also to do the work of an evangelist.  What does that mean?  They are to constantly proclaim the good news of God’s love, forgiveness, and salvation in Jesus Christ, who lived the perfect life, died for our sins, and rose again for our salvation.  Pastors hope that all who hear this gospel message will repent of their sins, believe in the Triune God, and so be eternally saved.  Evangelism is simply connecting people to Jesus Christ.

          Study is an important element in a pastor’s work.  They study the Scriptures, the doctrine of God, history of the Church, how to best deal with changes in our culture, leadership principles, and so forth.  Often this study is accomplished with the Bible or other books or a computer.  Sometimes groups of pastors gather together at conferences to study, worship, pray, and encourage each other.  Continuing education is important for pastors, even as it is for other professionals, so that they can carry out their ministry skillfully and effectively.

        Throughout their ministry, pastors need to practice good self-care, lest they become burned out, discouraged, lazy, or complacent about the Lord’s work.  Proper sleep, nutrition, exercise, time off, family time, and prayer and meditation are important to pastors, just as they are for all God’s people.

         Please encourage your pastor by valuing and appreciating their ministry and sharing in it through worship, service, and prayer.

 

 

Our Mission Trip to Guatemala

By Pastor Wayne Bernau, Immanuel Lutheran

            Our worldview was a bit expanded recently when Norm Kopp and I from our congregation at Immanuel had the chance to fly to Guatemala October 11-18 to explore mission possibilities there with a group called CALMS:  Central American Lutheran Mission Society.  While there, we visited four small villages just north of the city of Coban:  Choval, Las Crucas, Chilatz, and Cerro Lindo. 

            The country of Guatemala has exquisite beauty, with continuous mountains, a few volcanoes, lush vegetation, colorful flowers, and singing birds.  If it were not for the widespread poverty, 40% unemployment, much illiteracy, lack of clean water, corruption in the government, and selfish landowners, the country of Guatemala would be just short of paradise.

            We soon learned how much we take for granted in the good old USA.  We were warned never to drink water there, only purified bottled water.  Even brushing our teeth required bottled water. We were told not to eat fruit or vegetables that were not peeled or cooked.  We were cautioned to stick together as a group, and not go about on our own.  95% of Guatemalans speak Spanish, so our two interpreters were very helpful.

            We were humbled as we visited the remote village of Choval with about 200 people that had a school of about 50 students.  That village had no electricity, no water, and no cars.  There were only a few books in the school.

 Despite these hardships, the people were hospitable and so gracious!  They are probably more content and faith-filled than most Americans.  And they are such a beautiful people!  They are so resourceful to work with whatever resources they have been given.  We saw several women skillfully carry baskets of goods on their heads.  Numerous vendors would set up a booth along the streets or roadsides to sell their wares.

            The mission of CALMS is to make disciples for Jesus Christ, in accordance with Matthew 28:19-20 and to assist in developing healthy communities and dynamic churches.  Rather than do things for the people, CALMS endeavors to do things with the people.  In other words, rather than give people a hand out, they seek to give them a hand up.  A high value is placed on developing relationships, not just producing results.  This is something we Americans could learn from.

            Several crops are raised in Guatemala:  maize (corn for tortillas & tamales), cardamom (number one in world production), coffee, bananas, beans, and sugar cane.

            The main tool used in Guatemala seemed to be the machete, which is used to mow ditches, cut weeds, and harvest some of the crops.  While in Guatemala, we did not see a single tractor or piece of farm machinery used for tilling, planting, and harvesting.  The work of planting and harvesting crops there is all done by hand, and mostly on steep slopes.

            We hope to take a small group of people from our congregation back to Gautemala next year to become further acquainted and offer our assistance to work with them in several areas.  May the Lord guide and bless those endeavors!

            But someone may object, “Why go 3,000 miles away to share the gospel when there are so many in our own area that need it?”  Good question.  Actually, it is not a matter of whether we share here or there.  God calls us to do both.  We start at home, but we do not stop there.  Reaching out to others on a missions trip helps us to be better prepared to share the message of the Lord and His gospel where it is also much needed—right here at home.