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Faith Fellowship

Church of the Lutheran Brethren

November/December 2011

Vol. 78, No. 6


The end of the story is just the beginning!

In This Issue 4 6 8 10 11 12

13 14


Warnings Troy Tysdal


Faithful to the End

Volume 78 - Number 6

Anthony Karlik

The Cutting Edge of Christmas Joel Christenson

Family Matters

Director of Communications: Tim Mathiesen | twitter: @ffmag

Roy Heggland

Editor: Brent Juliot

Snap Shot

Publisher/Graphic Designer: Troy Tysdal

Kristina Larsen

Do You Innovate? Forrest Erickson Convention Update What Jesus’ Grandma Might have said at Christmas Cheryl Olsen


18 20

Carry Me... Dad Ruth Vallevik Church & Synod News re:Think David Foss

Illustration: Megan Behrens: Cover Illustration Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright ©1973. 1978. 1984. International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

Pray on!

Promoted to Prayer JOHN HEIE

Over the years I had always been heavily involved in church work, in a number of different capacities. With this, I found myself in many public settings and meeting rooms. I never gave any thought to room temperatures, until God sent a rare auto-immune blood disease my way, called cold agglutinin. In temperatures below 78 degrees, anti-bodies in my blood attack and destroy my red blood cells, thereby reducing my hemoglobin count to potentially dangerous levels, and turning my extremities blue. For the last 16 years the daily question I deal with is, how cold is it going to be in this place, or that place? This has greatly curtailed my ability to be involved in church work in recent years. I loved serving the Lord in church, but he had something different in mind. One day a few years back, I was having coffee with my associate pastor. I wasn’t feeling very positive, so I said 2

to him, “I have been reduced to prayer.” He smiled at me and said, “No, John, you have been promoted to prayer.” It was a very meaningful moment for me. While acknowledging the importance of doing the actual hands-on work, God has helped me to see more clearly that it is prayer that connects us to the power source. My daily time with the Lord, and my various prayer lists, are precious to me. And perhaps I am more effective in his kingdom work than ever before, because he is the one who has to build the church through his power, not mine. “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). John Heie is a member of the CLB Prayer Team. The CLB Prayer Team is on-call to pray for requests from our family of churches. E-mail the team at:

Faith & Fellowship

Glimpse What’s Wrong with Sleeping? BRENT JULIOT

MATTHEW 13:32-37 “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back – whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’” Tribulation: trial; suffering; something that causes great suffering; catastrophic event; a problem or difficulty; distress or suffering resulting from oppression or persecution; a trying experience. In the following pages you will read of much tribulation. People sometimes talk of their tribulation and then stop right there: “Trials? Suffering? Well, grin and bear it, for such is life…” But, looking through the lens of Scripture, tribulation never stands alone. There is always another sentence, one that contains hope. Tribulation is granted its due; it’s a terrible place to be. But it exists in a bigger picture, in the context of hope. Whether we think of The Great Tribulation or our own personal or family tribulations, the Word of God offers hope. This hope is related specifically to the Coming of Christ and the Return of Christ, both of which are called The Advent of Christ. It’s only because of that First Advent – not just Jesus’ birth, but especially his life, suffering (tribulation), death and resurrection – that we can look forward to the Second Advent. Take away the

mercy of God toward us at the cross and the Second Advent brings not hope, but terror. When is the Second Advent? Jesus says, “No one knows… but only the Father.” But we must realize that even though that specific point in time is unknowable, it nevertheless is a specific point in time. It is already fixed. It will be the same exact moment for all of us who live. But whether we live to experience it, or whether some of us are called home sooner, this one thing is true for us all: Our tribulation gives way to hope realized. We shall see our Savior face-toface. Not knowing how we’ll meet him or when the Second Advent happens, we wait. Maybe we wait in tribulation. How do we wait? Jesus compared it to a man going on a trip. His servants are instructed to be ready, waiting, alert, prepared when the master returns – even if it’s at night, even if it’s a time of darkness, of tribulation. Jesus bookends his warning story with imperatives: “Be on guard! Be alert!... Watch!” I ask again, how do we wait? We can’t

stay awake and alert all the time. Notice in the story that the servant at the door was assigned to keep watch, but the other servants in the household were each assigned their own tasks. Today, we keep watch by faithfully doing what the Lord has called us to do – bringing the good news of Christ to all people, building up the body of believers, exercising the gifts God has given to us individually and corporately. The story raises the question: Can we still do this even if it is a dark time for us or for our family or for our church or for our nation? Will we be awake and ready at his Advent? So, what’s wrong with sleeping at night? Nothing at all, unless we have allowed the darkness to rob us of the hope that we have in Christ. God give us grace to stay awake! Rev. Brent Juliot is Editor of Faith & Fellowship magazine, teaches math at Hillcrest Lutheran Academy, and serves as senior pastor at Stavanger Lutheran Church in Fergus Falls, MN.




n a cool spring day the largest ship that had ever sailed was crossing the Atlantic Ocean on its maiden voyage. Captain Edward J. Smith had the ship running full steam ahead on its journey from Southhampton, England to New York City. It was April 14, 1912. The ocean was calm, not a ripple, but the radio room on the Titanic was anything but calm. At 9:00 a.m., the ship received a warning: “Icebergs ahead.” The warning was sent to the bridge. At 1:42 p.m., there came a second warning: “Icebergs spotted!” Three minutes later, a third warning: “Two large icebergs, five miles south.” A fourth warning at 7:30 p.m.: “Three large icebergs in the vicinity.” Warning after warning was sent to the Titanic and delivered to the captain. In all, the Titanic was at sea four days and received twenty-one warnings of 4

dangerous ice. Twenty-one warnings of doom and destruction in its path, yet the ship never slowed down. Some historians have speculated that Captain Smith was trying to set a speed record from England to America. Most historians dispute that claim. They say the Titanic was far too heavy to challenge any speed record, and that the simple fact seems to be that Captain Smith just ignored the warnings! He was the captain of the largest ship in the world and he felt good about it. Why shouldn’t he! One reporter had even called the Titanic “the ship God himself couldn’t sink!” Captain Smith felt invincible as the Titanic sailed in the cold icy Atlantic toward its doom. Warnings! Since the beginning of time, humankind has ignored warnings. God said to Adam and Eve, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the

knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17). Three chapters into the Bible, a book with 1,189 chapters, we already have our first warning. God said, “If you go down that path, if you eat from that tree, it will lead to doom and destruction.” There is a beautiful story that follows our first warning. It is the story of God’s promised savior, the one that would come and be crucified for the sins of the world and three days later defeat death by rising again. In Matthew 28, God’s promise of a Savior is realized as Jesus Christ rises from the dead. In Mark 16, we hear the story again, and, in Luke 24, a third time. That’s enough, as the Law of Moses tells us the testimony of three is trustworthy, but just in case God gives us one more. In John 20, we hear the story of resurrection a fourth time, this time from the Apostle Faith & Fellowship

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” Revelation 2:7

John. John was a man who had walked with Jesus. Before Jesus died, he told John to take care of his mother. John was a man Jesus trusted with important things! He is also the author of the final book of the Bible, the book of Revelation. When John recorded the Revelation of Jesus Christ he was no longer the young fisherman we often picture, he was now an old man. John was being held as a prisoner in a Roman labor camp on the island of Patmos as punishment for preaching the good news of Jesus Christ. One evening, while resting in a cool damp cave, John heard a voice behind him. The voice said, “Write on a scroll what you are about to see.” John turned around to see the voice that was speaking to him, and he saw his Lord Jesus Christ, shining brighter than the sun in all its brilliance. Jesus said to him, “Do not be afraid… I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever... Write, therefore what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.” In that dark damp cave on the island of Patmos, Jesus showed John the fate of the world. He told John there is danger ahead. He told John to sound the alarm! Send out the warning because the time is near! Unlike Captain Smith of the Titanic, the Apostle John would not ignore the warning he was given. He recorded exactly what he saw, and the letter of Revelation was smuggled off the island and brought back to the seven churches of Asia, and it is here with us today. In the letter of Revelation, Jesus warns believers, “Do not forsake your first love!” His message is this: “Remember the moment you first believed! Remember

the moment when you first realized your sins had been wiped clean! Remember the moment you first tried to imagine heaven! Remember the moment, and know this: it will be far greater than you could ever imagine!” Jesus gives us this warning for good reason. Our memories are short. Our passion grows cold. Scripture warns those who are not filled with passion for what Jesus has done, that their faith will not survive the trouble ahead. Their faith will not survive the anti-Christian message they hear on television, the condescending remarks their co-workers make, the temptations of Satan, their own sinful desire to serve themselves rather than others. On April 14, 1912, approximately ten minutes before midnight, an iceberg cut a hole in the Titanic. It was below the water line and 299 feet long. The jolt woke Captain Smith from his sleep. He went to the bridge and asked for a full report on the damage, but it was too late. After 2-1/2 hours the Titanic sank. During those 2-1/2 hours that the Titanic still floated in the cold Atlantic Ocean, many of the passengers refused to believe the ship was sinking. The generators were still bringing electricity, the band continued to play, the ship was still afloat. The impending doom of the Titanic was not visible to the passengers on board. It was only visible below the waterline. If the passengers could have seen below the waterline, they would have seen that the ship was filling with water, and they would have realized the danger ahead. The book of Revelation gives us a glimpse below the waterline. Think of it like this: The moment when Adam and

Eve ate from the tree of knowledge is the moment when the Titanic struck the iceberg. The electricity is still on, and the band continues to play, but the ship is filling with water. As hopeless as that sounds, our story is not hopeless at all. For those who believe, for those who hear the warnings recorded in the book of Revelation, there is a beautiful promise. The promise is this: Jesus Christ was crucified for your sins, and he is coming again. All who believe will eat from the tree of life in the paradise of God. Grab hold of that truth, find your passion, picture heaven in your imagination, and know that – whatever you have pictured – it will be far better, and it will last forever! Amen! Troy Tysdal is Church Resource Coordinator for the Church of the Lutheran Brethren and serves as associate pastor at Stavanger Lutheran Church in Fergus Falls, MN.

Footsteps in the Promise follows God’s promise of salvation from Genesis to Revelation, reaching young children, and equipping young parents as they teach their children about God’s mission, his Son, and the salvation of humankind. Footsteps in the Promise: Written by Troy Tysdal Illustrated by Megan Behrens



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Faithful to the End ANTHONY KARLIK


think every Christian desires to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” from our Lord on the last day. But I wonder how many of us hear those words today as Law, not Gospel? We can have the desire to stand firm and to be faithful, but in times of tribulation we are unable by our own strength to do so. What makes matters worse is that, after giving in to our weakness, we find ourselves overcome by guilt that we were unable to remain strong in difficult situations. If you have ever experienced this type of soulstruggle, then this article is for you. Our Lord Jesus said in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Boy, do I wish that in this world we would not have trouble, but that is not the case; that is not reality. I have faced 6

many different trials both in my personal life and my ministry. I wish this could be a testimony of my strength and faith but that would not be true. I have faced fear that has made my body tremble and shake. On 9/11/01, I was serving the CLB church in Staten Island, New York, when my wife and I actually heard the second plane hit the World Trade Center. Throughout that day we waited to hear if our friends were alive or not, while at the same time wondering what would happen to us next. No longer did home feel safe. I could no longer by my strength remain strong. Fear had set in and emotions were taking over. But even in the midst of this overwhelming time of trouble, Jesus remained faithful. He brought the church together that night so we could find peace for our souls. He came to us in our weakest time and assured us that “he has overcome the world.” You might think that after experiencing

Jesus’ power in such a magnificent way I would remain faithful for the rest of my life. I really wish that that was how the story goes. You see, I was hoping that the word “trouble” would be defined in the singular sense, but it is plural, as we all know. In 2007 I was faced with a personal struggle that I must deal with for the rest of my life. On October 29, 2007 I was hit by a car while on my motorcycle. This placed me in the hospital for six weeks. As a result of all the surgeries I needed, I am now limited in what I can do physically. They had to reconstruct a foot for me while also placing rods in my leg so I can stand. Throughout this process I went through every emotion known to man. From anger with God to rage against the one who hit me. From knowing I must forgive and trust the Lord to fighting and kicking all the way. And when I could finally fight no more, the Faith & Fellowship

only faithful one, our Lord Jesus, came to minister to me. When I hear the passage, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” I hang my head in shame because I am not worthy to be called that. But Jesus, knowing our condition, does not leave us in that state of brokenness. The Apostle Paul gives us this word of assurance in Romans 7:21-8:2. “So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord! “So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. Therefore,

there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” This is good news to all who fall short of the glory of God. Good news to the weak and the unfaithful alike. But there is just one more thing I need to say. I know that I will continue to face trouble in my life just like you, but I also know that a faithful Savior will be with us and that one day when all is said and done he will faithfully come for us. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They

will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’” (Revelation 21:1-4). Rev. Anthony Karlik is pastor of Faith Lutheran Brethren Church in Briarcliff Manor, NY. VISIT ONLINE


The Cutting Edge of Christmas JOEL CHRISTENSON


ne chilly late-November afternoon about a dozen years ago, when our two older boys were still quite young, my wife and I bundled them into their winter jackets for an impromptu family outing to a nearby park. While Chris and Nate and a few other kids were gleefully roaring around the park’s central plaza in kid-sized “race cars” at top speeds of three miles per hour, it suddenly dawned on me that the “white noise” I was hearing over the kiddy ride’s loudspeaker system was an instrumental rendition of “Joy to the World.” I was absolutely stunned. Now if I had been in the middle of some North American shopping mall at that moment with the very same music playing over the public address system, 8

I might have found myself quietly humming along while going about my shopping. I wouldn’t have given the fact that it was a Christmas carol that I was listening to so much as a second thought. After all, every North American shopper hears that sort of thing coming across loudspeakers and radio stations that time of year all the time – year after year after year. But I was not in a North American shopping mall. I was in a city park in the middle of a socialist country whose official “religion” was atheism. And yet the musical message coming to my ears at that moment in that very public place, and to the ears of anyone else nearby who also knew the words to the song, was, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let

earth receive her king!” And hearing that particular message in that particular place at that particular moment rocked me to the core. Let me try to explain. You must understand that on that wintry afternoon, I was hearing that Advent message – the impossibly good news that “the Lord is come” – against the historical and religious backdrop of a country where, only a few decades before, every church building across the land was padlocked and any form of religious activity – public or private – was punishable by public ridicule, beatings, imprisonment, and even death. During those bleak, silent years when there was virtually no contact between Christians within the country and the rest of the world outside, many Faith & Fellowship

“After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.” Revelation 7:9

observers seriously doubted whether the Christian faith would even survive this latest round of attacks in a long and painful history of persecutions within that country. There had been an estimated 700,000 baptized believers before this latest phase of intense persecution began in the 1950s. When things finally started to lighten up in the late 70s and early 80s, there were probably only a few tens of thousands of believers left. And even when the padlocks began to come off of the few derelict church buildings that remained, most of the larger cities in the country had less than one officially registered church for every one million persons. Even on that brisk November afternoon as I was watching my two boys spin around that city park to the electronic strains of “Joy to the World,” public proselytizing of any kind was still strictly forbidden outside the confines of those few-and-far-between registered places of worship. At the end of that year, December 25 would come and go just like any other work day: no public holiday, no schools or businesses closed, no airports jammed with holiday travelers, no special reunions with family or friends. And yet, as I sat there marveling at the irony of a Christian song about the coming of the Lord being broadcast openly in the public square of an avowedly atheistic nation, it suddenly dawned on me that nothing could be more fitting – or more true! During the two decades since the intense persecution of all Christians had begun to die down and churches had begun to re-open, Christ had indeed been coming to that part of the world with such urgency and power that by then – the end of the 1990s – the number

of national believers had swelled from tens of thousands to tens of millions. One thousand-fold growth in just twenty years! Christmas – the celebration of the coming of the light of God’s salvation to people living in a great darkness – was literally happening all around me in that nominally atheistic nation, and at a pace that had probably never before been witnessed in the 2000-year history of the Church. There could be no more suitable way to describe what was then happening (and is still happening in that nation to this day) than by loudly proclaiming, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!” Jesus was finally coming to a place that had been awaiting his arrival for centuries upon end, and I just happened to be there – on the cutting edge of Christmas – seeing it unfold before my very eyes. On a brisk October day just one year ago, I found myself in a very different setting, yet one in which the same wonder of Christ’s modern-day Advent was also being loudly proclaimed all around me. It was the final day of the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization – a gathering in Cape Town, South Africa of some 5000 evangelical Christian leaders from nearly every nation on earth. Witnessing believers from nations all over the earth praising God, I was reminded of John’s vision of eternity in Revelation 7:9. The Apostle wrote, “I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.” As we all, with our hundreds of different mother tongues, were together singing some of the best-loved hymns of the faith

in the Cape Town Convention Center, I could not help but reflect, with tears welling up in my eyes, upon the many amazing reports that I had heard that week of how Christ was coming with urgency and power to other parts of the earth as well. In Guatemala, the percentage of evangelicals had grown from 5% to more than 33% of the population within a single generation. In Algeria, the number of Christians had grown from fewer than 100 in 1990 to tens of thousands by 2010. In Israel, 10% of all Palestinians now professed faith in Christ. In Myanmar, the number of Christians had exploded from a few dozen in the early 1800s to more than 600,000 today. In Bangladesh, 500,000 former Muslims were now following Christ. In Africa, the number of believers had grown to nearly 500 million, making the African sub-continent the new demographic center of the Christian world. Though it was only the month of October, it was crystal clear to me in that moment that all of us in that Cape Town Convention Center – gathered together from every nation on earth – had actually been celebrating Christmas all week long. Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King! Dr. Joel Christenson is executive director of a Christian non-profit organization that places and supports Christian students and professionals in cross-cultural ministry contexts within East Asia for the purpose of expanding God’s kingdom on earth.



F cus Family Matters ROY HEGGLAND


ost of us have heard stories about self-sacrificing fathers, sons, mothers or daughters – people who came to America from foreign lands in order to earn money to send back home to support their loved ones. Perhaps someone in your own family was one of those who came here for the benefit of the families that they left behind, far away. In some ways, those who sacrificed for their families lived as exiles for a time. They were concerned with sending treasure back “home,” rather than building something here in America. Hebrews 11:13 says this of the saints in the Old Testament era: “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on earth” (ESV). Hebrews 13:14 says this of the Church: “For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.” The question is not whether as believers

we are exiles here on earth — we are! The question is whether we live like exiles whose citizenship is in heaven, or whether we live as though we are citizens of a city made with hands on this earth. Jesus put it this way in Matthew 6:1921, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves come in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” In this season of Advent we look forward to the Christmas celebration of the coming of the incarnate Jesus. We also anticipate Christ’s return to take us to our homeland, the place of our citizenship. Our faith is the “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, ESV). We are looking for the “city that is to come” – the one that we have already inherited as children of God through the death and resurrection of his Son, the place

that God has been preparing for us since Christ’s ascension. What does all of this have to do with stewardship? Everything! If our home and treasure are here on this earth, then stewardship is heard as an empty call. We are asked to give away our resources, meaning we have less with which to build our own earthly kingdom. If, however, we recognize that our home is with Christ and he is our treasure, then stewardship becomes a loving call to lay up treasures in Christ, the one who has captured our hearts. We will view stewardship as the natural result of the hope we have that one day “we shall be like him for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3). Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace! Roy Heggland serves the CLB as Associate for Biblical Stewardship.

Received as of Sept. 30, 2011 CLB Mission Statement: In response to God’s person and grace, we worship him with everything we are in Christ, serve one another in Christian love and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ will all people. CLB Vision Statement: We see God stirring in our church a fresh passion to reach beyond our own comfort to all people among whom God places us. We embrace God’s mission to bring the life changing Gospel to unreached people in Asia and Africa, and we sense God convicting us to more intentionally reach out to people who live in our midst in North America as well. Family Matters: We ask that you prayerfully consider partnering with us as we seek, with God’s help, to proclaim the good news we have been given to the ends of the earth.

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One True God


n the six years that we’ve been in Taiwan, we’ve formed many relationships. Most of them are with non-Christians. Some have heard the gospel and others haven’t even heard the name of Jesus. I want to share with you about two men who we are privileged to call our friends. Mr. Deng is the bus driver for the Chinese kindergarten that our kids attend. Initially I would talk to him in passing, using the best Hakka I could since I didn’t know much at the time. My initial impression of him was something like “I bet he’d be a fun grandpa!” He had that sweet and fun personality that I remember my Grandpa Kaare having. He became one of the people that I would pray for daily as I walked or drove through our town. A few years after meeting him I heard from a friend at church that his wife and brother were Christians who attended Isaak, Kristina, Joey, Noelle, and Andrew Larsen our church. Wow! I couldn’t believe that it took me that long to make the came to faith in Jesus. He’s become part of a small group and now we see him not connection. Here was a man who had only at the school, but every Sunday at church. He’s now filled with a new joy, one that connections to the church, but thought comes only from Christ. it was unnecessary. He wasn’t openly Mr. Yeh is not at that point. Please pray for him and for his family. Pray that they opposed to the gospel, he just thought all would believe in the one true Savior. Pray for his wife that her faith would stand firm religions led to peace. and that she would be able to share it with her children, husband, and mother-in-law. Mr. Yeh is a neighbor and good friend Pray for the many people – both here and where you are – who have similar stories. of ours. He helps us out all the time, takes Some openly reject the Gospel and will disown their family members who believe. our kids horseback riding, helps Isaak Others live as Mr. Deng once did and Mr. Yeh still does… opposing the gospel, not in with his Chinese homework, then whisks anger, but with a smile. May they all come to believe in the one true God. our kids off to Kung Fu. He also supplies us with the best coffee! Mr. Yeh is not a Kristina Larsen serves with her husband Andrew and their children as missionaries with LBIM in Taiwan. Lutheran Brethren Christian. His wife became a Christian a couple of years ago and was recently baptized. Mr. Yeh is another man who has BRINGING THE GOOD NEWS TO UNREACHED PEOPLE not yet come to faith. He does not openly oppose Christianity, explaining that all roads lead to peace. The Church of the Lutheran Brethren sent its first These two men are so similar in many missionaries tomissionary Taiwan into1951. Since First LBIM Taiwan: 1951the arrival of ways. They are also like many other nonChristians here in Taiwan and all over the our first missionary family, several churches have Church Statistics: 15 congregations, 12 pastors, world. They have both heard the gospel. been planted and a seminary begun in cooperation 1,626 avg Sunday attendance They both know about Jesus and what he with three other Lutheran missions and four National has done for them. They are not, however, Schools: Seminary Churches. We1 have a growing work and presence at the same point of faith. the Hakka people. Church Planting Praise the Lord, last year Mr. Deng among Missionary Involvement:

International Mission



Originally from mainland China, the Hakka migrated to Taiwan early 11 in the 18th century. There are more than three million Hakka people in Taiwan


Finding Value in Simplicity


ovember 2011 marks the third year Generation Church has been meeting in a house. We like meeting in someone’s home. It works well for us. No rent or mortgage payment means we have funds for ministering to the needs of others. We don’t have any plans to get a building of our own. We know that if we grow much beyond the twenty-five who currently participate in Generation Church, we can start a second church in another neighborhood without worrying about the cost of facilities. But as much as we thrive meeting in a home, that’s not really what Generation Church is all about. As far as we are concerned, where we meet is much less important than how we function. Three years ago, after wrestling with several questions about how the local church functions in a community, we initiated some changes to the way we work and worship. The following are two examples: Church Leadership* - The New Testament clearly teaches that God has given the ministry of overseeing and shepherding (pastoring) to the elders of the church (Acts 20:27-28). In keeping with this teaching, I freely choose to function as one of the elders of the church rather than in the traditional role as “the pastor.” I minister primarily by “preaching and teaching” and helping to “direct the affairs of the church,” a ministry Paul attributes to elders in 1 Timothy 5:1718. We make sure that all five of us who serve as elders constantly touch base with one another by e-mail and face-to-face meetings. All of us actively share in the ministry of overseeing (protecting and guiding) the church. All of us are able to teach (a biblical qualification for an elder) and all of us share in that ministry, either through one-on-one mentoring or in the corporate gatherings of the church. Meetings - Our gatherings are simple and unhurried. According to 1 Corinthians 14, we meet in an orderly fashion yet give 12

freedom for the working of the Holy Spirit, avoiding our former practice of tightly planned and orchestrated programs. We sing a few songs, pray often, give opportunity for persons to share how God is working in their lives, and provide extensive teaching from God’s word. Our teaching always includes opportunities for questions and reflection. If someone needs prayer, it is not uncommon for us to ask the elders or the entire church to gather around that individual so that we may lay our hands upon that person as we pray. Before and after our meetings we spend time chatting with one another over a cup of coffee or getting to know someone new. Our gatherings typically last a couple of hours. There are also many other things we do differently from traditional or institutional church, but not because we want to be different or innovative. Our concern is this: If we make the functioning of the church more complex than Jesus intended, or if we incorporate

practices not supported by the Scriptures, we usually end up depending more on our own devices than on Jesus and the power of his Spirit. Anytime we attempt to succeed in our own power or wisdom the effectiveness of our witness is diminished. *(I also share in the ministry of Desert Rose Church in Tempe. Although the two congregations are very different from one another, when it comes to the role of elders in the church, we practice the same principles in both congregations. In Desert Rose, I minister primarily as a teaching and preaching elder while one of the other three elders takes primary responsibility for directing the affairs of the church.) Rev. Forrest Erickson serves as pastor of Generation Church in Chandler, AZ and Desert Rose Church in Tempe, AZ. VISIT ONLINE

Faith & Fellowship


Western Regional Meeting



ith the majesty of the Rocky Mountains as the backdrop, pastors, leaders and delegates gathered August 3-6 for the first CLB Western Region Convention at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado. Our theme: “The Cowboy, the Culture, the Cross.” The Convention coincided with YC11 (the CLB youth convention), and provided opportunities for some pastors to travel with the youth of their congregations. Dr. Craig Jennings and Dr. Eugene Boe were the session speakers. Their messages unpacked the realities of western culture and culture in general – how a “cowboy” attitude of “do it yourself” often infiltrates the spiritual life, in contradiction to the message of the cross.

Other gatherings included the Western Region women’s gathering with Deb Witkop leading, and a CLB Panel Discussion with President Joel Egge, Rev. Matthew Rogness (International Missions), Dr. David Veum (Seminary), and Tim Mathiesen (Communications and Prayer). The Panel Discussion provided opportunity for department updates and delegates’ questions. In the business meeting, Living Faith Church of Watford City, North Dakota was recommended for CLB membership at the 2012 Biennial Convention. Delegates also agreed that funds currently held for a new church plant in Aurora, Colorado be released to a committee that would oversee the funds, making them available to Church at the Ranch

in Highlands Ranch, Colorado as they look into a church plant in Aurora. Rev. Gary Witkop was affirmed by delegates as Western Regional Pastor. Highlights included an evening of comedy with Ken Davis, a speaker at YC11, and the Friday evening opportunity for updates and prayer requests from each church. It was very valuable for delegates to get to know each other better, and take specific prayer requests back to their congregations. Rev. Jason Rogness serves as pastor at Community in Christ LBC in Arvada, CO. VISIT ONLINE

w w w. c l b a w r. o r g

C hurch of the an Luthe Bret ren Ab ound ing


HOP E Website:



What Jesus’ Grandma might have said at Christmas CHERYL OLSEN


y young grandson is incredible! Maybe I’m a bragging Grandma, but even the temple teachers say he’s amazing! It shouldn’t surprise me, though, because I know the back-story of his birth! His mother was a sensitive girl; pondering things – storing them for later contemplation, it seemed. She absorbed the scriptures read at our synagogue; scriptures repeated at home. We talked about God as we worked, when we sat, as we walked along the way – the same way you have taught your daughters about our Creator, yes? Life seemed perfect as we celebrated her betrothal to Joseph, a kind, responsible carpenter who would care for the family they would build together. We were anticipating the coming marriage until one very difficult day. Mary had some news. I feel numb as I think back on it – she quietly confided to me that she was “with child.” 14

Mary? My betrothed daughter? I stood silently with my mouth open. My mind was racing. In our society, a girl could be stoned for unfaithfulness! I wanted to be angry! I was overwhelmed with embarrassment for her and our family, but the looming emotion was fear: I was afraid for her life! Instead, I managed, “Wh-h-oo is the father?” And Mary’s eyes grew wide with wonder, not with fear, as she told me a story that would have been unbelievable – except coming from my honest daughter’s lips. “Mother,” she began, “an angel visited me! It was incredible! He said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’ He sensed my emotions and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father

David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.’” The two of us, mother and daughter, sat there in wonder. What a privilege! But, it wasn’t happening the way any of us women of Israel had ever thought. God’s ways are surprisingly different than ours, aren’t they? Mary spent the next few months at Elizabeth’s, since the angel had told Mary the amazing news of our barren kinswoman’s pregnancy in her old age. Elizabeth’s exultant greeting gave Mary the second confirmation of the identity of her baby, my grandson – the son of God! The third came after Mary returned home three months later. Waiting for Joseph’s reaction, my stomach was in knots, until I saw his face. It was wreathed in smiles as he told Mary, “I had a dream! The angel of the Lord said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is Faith & Fellowship

conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’” God’s plans often surprise us! Without the festivities I had dreamed of for our daughter, we were still joyful. Joseph brought her to the home he was preparing for her, and she became his wife, technically still his betrothed, because they wouldn’t consummate their marriage before the baby was born. Then, another bump in the road! As the due date approached, our Roman rulers demanded a census. Joseph and Mary traveled to his ancestral town, Bethlehem. When the little King was born I was several days-journey away. No newspaper, e-mail, or cell phones! I assumed he’d been born when they didn’t return right away. I should have remembered that Bethlehem was prophesied as Messiah’s birthplace! As the days grew into weeks, I thought, “Well, they probably won’t

travel with a newborn, and they are near the temple in Jerusalem – the naming and circumcision at eight days would be very special in the holy city.” So I waited. The weeks became months. I became anxious. I was horrified to hear rumors of the massacre of infant boys in the vicinity of Bethlehem! Was my grandson one of those slain? I wept for all of them – whether mine or not. Herod the Great? I called him Herod the Horrible! What could you expect from a man who had his own wife and three sons killed! But babies? Toddlers?! I admit that I felt relief, not grief, when Herod the Great died. Unfortunately, three of his surviving sons ruled instead. At least Herod Antipas, Galilee’s ruler, was better than Jerusalem’s Archelaus. Time passed, until one joyous day I recognized two familiar figures plodding up the path – Joseph walking, Mary astride a donkey, enfolding a small, sleeping son, no longer an infant. I ran

to greet my grandson for the first time! What surprising stories they told about Jesus! Angels filling the night sky telling sheepherders of a baby’s birth; shepherds worshiping the infant Savior in a manger; Simeon and Anna prophesying as their promised Christ was brought into the temple; eastern visitors guided by a special star, bowing before the King, giving costly gifts; dream-angels warning of Herod’s intentions to harm the child; fleeing to Egypt; returning safely to Nazareth. God’s amazing plans – unlike ours! This boy Messiah continues to surprise me. I wonder how he’ll “save his people from their sins?” Ah, well, let’s celebrate his birthday! Cheryl Olsen is Information Coordinator for Women’s Ministries of the CLB. VISIT WMCLB ONLINE


Carry Me, Dad... RUTH VALLEVIK


hen I was a young child, my pastor-dad served a four-point parish in North Dakota. Many Sunday nights I fell asleep in our car as we made the long, 50-mile trip back home from the last service. When we pulled into our driveway I would mumble, “Carry me, Dad…” And I cherish the tender memory of those strong arms lifting me and bringing me safely to my bed. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the depth of meaning in God’s word to his people in Isaiah 46:3-4, “Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all you who remain of the house of Israel, you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” When Dad carried me home, he gave me strength I didn’t have. Our Heavenly Father’s arms sometimes mean strength. We may be exhausted by the daily challenge of living as believers in a world opposed to his truth, we may be tired from the battle with our own sinful selves, or we may simply be physically drained from ministry. As we used to sing in Sunday School, “I am weak, but he is strong.” Have you ever noticed how a carried child often looks around confidently, interested in what is around her, seemingly unconcerned about noises, distractions, even dangers? She feels secure in those loving arms. Sometimes, God’s arms mean security. In John 10:28 Jesus says, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” We may be surrounded by dangers, both seen and unseen, but our trust is in the God who carries us. Did you ever wander thoughtlessly into the street, and your dad raced to grab 16

you out of harm’s way (and maybe his hands administered a little correction, also)? Sometimes God’s arms mean deliverance. King David declared, “This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles…” (Psalm 34:6). Perhaps we have disobeyed his truth, ignored his voice, fallen into temptation and endangered our souls. His arms mean rescue. When you hold your child, do you realize how often your hands are stroking him, giving him love and assurance? Sometimes God’s arms around us mean affection. Zephaniah 3:17 reads, “The Lord your God is with you; he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” And hear Isaiah again, “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart…” (40:11). All of us long to be cherished, to be truly known, to belong – and his touch tells us so. Small children are often held when they have been hurt, or they’re sad or sick. Our grown-up hurts may be deeper but less visible, and our illness and loneliness may be known only to our Heavenly Father, but his arms bring consolation and comfort. Hear the Word, “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you…” (Isaiah 66:13) and “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). How many of you were carried over your new home’s threshold by your bridegroom? God himself will ultimately carry us over the threshold to the eternal home that he has prepared for us. Jesus says, “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place

for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2-3). Here, at the height of our love relationship with him, are the arms of promise. He will come for us! What exactly is required of us then, as his children? Faith. Just that. Faith to respond to his call to salvation and accept his forgiveness. Faith to believe and do what he says, to trust him to provide all that is needed, and to abide in his love. The Word teaches us that even that faith is a gift of our Father! Never forget that even though he carries us, we will still go through trouble, and the rescuer himself may be injured. That is exactly the ultimate price that Jesus paid to save us. Knowing that God is carrying me gives me a message of hope to share. It also gives me encouragement in my work. As we hear in 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his Faith & Fellowship

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grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” I need him because of my own fears: fear of failure in ministry, fear of misdirected efforts, missed opportunities, misunderstood mission, and fear of not finishing well. But I give him my fears, trust in his direction, and rest in his strength. Finally, knowing that he is carrying me gives me a testimony to share. My personal experience with grief since my husband Bruce went home to the Lord six years ago has taught me the truth I’d only heard before, but now know with confidence: God really can carry his child through the very worst that can happen in anyone’s life. Trust him, my friend, won’t you? His arms will bring you strength, security, deliverance, affection, consolation – and they will carry you Home.

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Fellowship with one another


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Walk in the light

The blood of Jesus

1 John 1:7

Council of Directors The Council of Directors (COD) met on October 13 - 14. The COD passed the Theological Council’s recommendation that Pastors Dean Rostad and Daniel Bronson be ordained into the Ministry of the Gospel. They also voted to call a missionary couple to the Bagirmi people group of Chad, Africa. Their name will be announced as soon as all the applicants have been notified. The COD also wrestled with the realities of ministering with very limited resources as contributions are lower than previous years with an estimated negative outcome of over $200,000 by April 30, 2012. The COD committed our pastors, congregations, and our joint denominational mission to the Lord, praying for his provision! Download the Minutes



Janet Heuer, Ch. Col. Michael H. Heuer, and CLB President Joel Egge


Recovery Continues The earthquake and tsunami in Japan has left families broken and hundreds of thousands homeless. We as God’s Church have many opportunities to support those who are suffering in Japan. This tragedy reminds us of how small and vulnerable we are as human beings. More importantly, while many have lost homes and are without food, even more people in Japan are without the gospel. Japan is a nation where less than 2% are Christian. Our missionaries first and foremost ask for your prayers as they continue to reach out spiritually and physically to their neighbors. If God has placed it on your heart to help support Japan’s recovery, you can mail your donation to:


Michael H. Heuer has been promoted to the rank of Chaplain, Colonel. He is assigned to the 502nd Air Base Wing, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, as the Lackland Joint Base Installation Chaplain. In this role, Ch. Colonel Heuer is responsible for the entire Chapel program and all pastoral care ministries to the 37th Training Wing, including the Air Force’s 39,000 annual basic trainees, plus 36,000 annual technical training students, as well as permanent party staff.

J-Term Congregation Renewal and Mission January 16 - 18, 2012 Sessions begin - 1:30 p.m. Jan. 16 • Sessions end - noon Jan. 18

Church of the Lutheran Brethren PO Box 655 • Fergus Falls, MN 56538-0655 (Japan Disaster Relief) To give online visit:

Installation On May 1, 2011, Michael Edwards was installed as pastor of Good News LBC in McAlisterville, PA. Warren Geraghty, Regional Pastor, led the service. 18

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FF 19



s many of you know, Steve Jobs passed away a few weeks ago. He was the cofounder of Apple and its CEO during the launching of the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad, leading Apple to becoming one of the most valuable companies in the world. Soon after his death, I came across the following headline: “Steve Jobs is Dead…There’s No App For That!” Playing off of the famous iPhone tagline, “There’s an App for That,” the headline raises a valuable point. I thought about it for a while. Is that true? Technically, yes, you cannot find an app in the iTunes store to resurrect the dead. However, there is an app to help us face eternity and join in the final resurrection. It’s just not one that Steve Jobs came up with. It’s also not one that’s on your iPhone. The only application that will help you, me, Steve Jobs, or anyone else face death is the blood of Jesus applied to our lives. That’s it. Done. Nothing else. Try and picture this: I want your mind to go back to the Old Testament. I want you to think about Israel, living in Egypt. At first things were good, but eventually things went bad. The pharaoh turned on the people of Israel, killed their children and made them his slaves. God watched patiently, until one day he had seen enough. He appeared to Moses and sent him to the pharaoh with a series of warnings. The final warning was that death and destruction would come upon Egypt. Moses told the pharaoh that God makes a distinction between Israel and Egypt, between those who are his people and those who are not. God told Moses to tell the Israelites to cover their door posts with the blood from a slaughtered lamb, a lamb without defect. The Israelites did as they were told, and that night destruction came on Egypt. Every home not protected by the blood of the lamb felt the wrath of God. The Word of God says, “When I see the blood I will pass over you” (Exodus 12:13). Folks, it’s no different today. When God is ready to come for you do you know what he’s looking for? He is NOT looking for your perfect application of what he tells you to do. He is looking for the application of his perfect Son’s blood! When he

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There’s an App for That!

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sees that, it covers your sins. God says, “When I see the blood, my only Son’s blood, I will pass…over…you.” “Blessed are those who wash their robes (in the blood of the Lamb), so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates” (Revelation 22:14). So yeah, it turns out…there’s an app for that. Do you look at yourself and see your pride, your selfishness and your addiction to approval? There’s an app for that. Do you look at yourself and see your tendency to speak ill of your parents or your spouse? Or do you see your justifying of your lustful fantasies? Do you see your sin? There’s an app for that. Are you going to face death one day? Is your body going to give up? There’s an app for that. The blood of Jesus. The blood of the Lamb. Rev. David Foss is the lead pastor at Bethel LBC in Fergus Falls, MN. VISIT ONLINE | | | @ffmag

Revelation: The end of the story is just the beginning  
Revelation: The end of the story is just the beginning  

Whether we think of The Great Tribulation or our own personal or family tribulations, the Word of God offers hope. This hope is related spec...