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Faith Fellowship Church of the Lutheran Brethren

July/August 2012

Vol. 79, No. 4

ABOUNDING IN HOPE To help financially support this publication please visit www.CLBA.org/giving


C hurch of the an Luthe Bret ren

Ab ou nd i ng

in

HOP E 2012 BIENNIAL CONVENTION AUGUST 2-5, 2012 • FERGUS FALLS, MN

Website: www.clba.org • E-mail: clb@clba.org • Phone: 218-739-3336


BC12 SPEAKERS

BRING YOUR WHOLE FAMILY

THURSDAY pm - AUG 2 PROMISED Rev. David Rinden

The Biennial Convention is teaming up with Inspiration Point Christian Camp & Retreat Center to provide life-changing activities for children and teenagers during this year’s convention.

Lead Pastor at Gethsemane Lutheran Brethren Church in Rochester, MN

FRIDAY am - AUG 3 DELIVERED Rev. Dick Mattila Lead Pastor at Cornerstone Community Church in Ferndale, WA

FRIDAY pm - AUG 3 RECEIVED Rev. David Foss Lead Pastor at Bethel Lutheran Church in Fergus Falls, MN

SATURDAY am - AUG 4 YOUTH LEADERS EVENT Tiger McLuen President of Youth Leadership

SATURDAY am - AUG 4 WOMEN’S EVENT Rhea Briscoe Keynote speaker and founder of Snowdrop Ministries

IPoint Nursery Infant through 4 year olds can participate in a nursery program led by IPoint staff. This will be offered during Worship Sessions, Seminars, and Women’s Ministries events at the CLB Convention. IPoint K-6 Day Camp

SATURDAY pm - AUG 4 KEYNOTE SPEAKER Dr. H.B. London Pastor to Pastors Emeritus for Focus on the Family

SUNDAY am - AUG 5 PROCLAIMING President Joel Egge President of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren

Kindergarten through 6th grade students can be a part of the Biennial Convention Day Camp that will run from Thursday evening through Saturday. IPoint 7-12 Experience Junior & Senior High students can join in leadership training, adventure course, and other activities with IPoint Staff. Thursday evening will be programmed in Fergus Falls. Friday and Saturday will be at IPoint. Transportation is included for each day.

Information and resources available at www.clba.org/convention Including information on nursery, youth training, and hotel accommodations


In This Issue 6 8 10 11 12 14 15 16 17

The Bible: The God-breathed book Eugene Boe

FF FAITH & FELLOWSHIP

Our Hope Endures

Volume 79 - Number 4

Anonymous

Roy Heggland

Director of Communications: Tim Mathiesen tmathiesen@clba.org | twitter: @ffmag

Donna, Joan and the Rest of Us

Editor: Brent Juliot bjuliot@clba.org

Authentic Gospel, Relevant Witness

Publisher/Graphic Designer: Troy Tysdal ttysdal@clba.org

Family Matters

Cheryl Olsen

Gaylan Mathiesen Immanuel: Restart Stan Olsen

Confirmation Curriculum 2012 34 Years in Japan Arnie and Bonita Nordaas

18 19 20

Illustration/Photography: Cheryl Olsen: p.14 Complex, Yet so Simple Brad Pribbenow CLB News

re:Think Brent Juliot

Arnie and Bonita, We Say, ‘Thank You!’ Matthew Rogness

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

Pray on!

Remember Our Hope ZACHARY SCHROER

“So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body” (2 Peter 1:12-13). In this epistle, Peter reminds us how we have received “everything we need for life and godliness” and how our Triune God “has given us his very great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:3-4). Even though we know these things, it is great to be reminded of them to carry us through each day and renew the hope we have in Jesus. It is amazing to have this knowledge in Jesus Christ that he loves us and 4

gives us all these blessings now and into eternity. We can cling to these words, because as Peter also reminds us, “…no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation…but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21). Lord, help us to always remember your grace filled and life giving Word, causing us to always hope and trust in you. Zachary Schroer serves as an intern pastor at Bethesda LBC in Eau Claire, WI. The CLB Prayer Team is on-call to pray for requests from our family of churches. E-mail the CLB Prayer Team at: pray@prayclb.org

Faith & Fellowship


Glimpse The Hope of Eternity My son will turn two in September. He likes to play in the mud, wrestle, and chase our family’s dogs with a toy shovel, laughing as he swings it. Recently, the boy’s grandmother showed up at our home with the gift of a children’s T-ball set. As I put the stand together, and placed the ball on top, the boy made his way over to pick up the toy baseball bat that accompanied the set. “He’s a natural!” I thought to myself. “Wowww!” he said, as he lifted the bat into the air. Then, without hesitation, he made his way over to the tee, but instead of swinging the bat, he used it as if it were a pool cue to gently push the ball from its place. Over the next several minutes, an epic battle of wills played out before my wife’s eyes. I was determined to teach our son how to properly swing a baseball bat. It shouldn’t have been that hard (he swings a toy shovel just fine), but he was determined to cling to his belief that the baseball bat was in fact a pool cue. Fast forward several weeks, and know this, the battle resumes every time we set up the tee. For some reason, my son is convinced he understands this toy and he refuses to accept the possibility he might be wrong. Have you ever fallen into this trap? The trap of being so sure of something that you miss the obvious? Two thousand years ago, the Pharisees were so sure they understood Scripture that they missed the Messiah, and likewise, the people from Jesus’ hometown were so sure they knew him that they rejected his wisdom and power. MARK 6:1-6 Jesus went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that www.ffmagazine.org

has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Jesus came to the people of Nazareth with the very wisdom of God. He taught with authority, he healed the sick, and yet he was rejected. In fact, his audience was offended by him. The people of Nazareth were so sure they knew Jesus that they refused to accept the possibility that he might be more than a carpenter, that he might be the Messiah, the Christ, the Savior of the world. In many ways we are like the people of Nazareth. We have grown up with Jesus. We have heard about his wisdom. We have heard about the miracles he

TROY TYSDAL

performed. How he silenced the wind and waves, healed the sick, and gave sight to the blind. Just as the people of Nazareth fell into the trap of viewing Jesus as a simple carpenter, we are in danger of seeing Jesus as a simple miracle worker. Someone who can bless our lives with health and wealth, but is not the Jesus of the Bible. The Jesus of the Bible challenges our thoughts, reveals to us our sin, and awakens us to our need for a Savior. In the Bible, and nowhere else, we are given the hard honest truth about our sin, but we are also told about the gracious and merciful will of our Heavenly Father. Jesus said, “My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life” (John 6:40). In this promise we are brought to the cross, and in the cross we see the real Jesus. The Jesus who laid down his life, not to shower us with material possessions, but to bless us with treasure in heaven and the hope of eternity. Rev. 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.

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The Bible: The God-breathed Book EUGENE BOE

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here are many expressions used to speak about the Bible: the good book, great literature, inspiring, road map for life. While these may capture some aspects of the Bible they fall short of being adequate expressions for the Bible. In reading the Bible with eyes wide open we begin to recognize that this book is different from other books. What does this book say about itself? In writing to Timothy, Paul sets forth not only the important place the Scriptures had for Timothy and their saving significance, but also that all the Scriptures were of divine origin, being “God-breathed.” “But as for you, continue in what you have learned 6

and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you have learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:14-17). Because Scripture is God-breathed, it is alive with the vitality of God; he himself breathed into it when he created it. Johann Albrecht Bengel said of Scripture, “It was divinely inspired, not merely while it was written, God breathing through the

writers, but also while it is being read, God breathing through the Scripture and the Scripture breathing him.” The writer of Hebrews ascribes this same quality to Scripture (Hebrews 4:12; cf. 1 Peter 1:23). Given that Scripture is God’s breath, we can say that God is present where Scripture is; having spoken, he is still speaking. 2 Peter was written to help the church deal with false teachers who introduce heresies that lead people away from the truth and toward destruction. This book, in seeking to establish people in the truth (2 Peter 1:12), calls them to remember that they “did not follow cleverly invented stories” when they were told “about the Faith & Fellowship


“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:16). This message was given on the basis of eyewitnesses who saw the majesty of Jesus and heard the voice from heaven saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am wellpleased” (2 Peter 1:17-18). Peter goes on to establish with even greater certainty the truthfulness and divine origin of this message. “And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:19-21). Scripture does not have its beginning in the human person. It begins with God. “Men spoke from God.” In this passage Peter states that the prophets’ messages were not due to their own thoughts or aspirations, since prophecy (all Scripture) does not come by human impulse but rather by the movement of God’s own Spirit. They were carried along. The Scriptures were written, not because men willed them, but because God willed them. Men spoke; God spoke. However, they were not passive instruments but active agents in the process. The nature of the participation of God and the human authors remains a deep mystery. Scripture is entirely the word of man, and Scripture is entirely the Word of God. The concepts of “God-breathing” and “men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” apply to all of Scripture so that it is entirely God’s Word; a distinction cannot be made between what is divine and what is human in the Scriptures. This brings up the question, www.ffmagazine.org

“What is meant by ‘Scripture’?” Scripture in the contexts of 2 Timothy and 2 Peter refers to the entire Old Testament. These “holy writings” are spoken of in Romans (3:2) as “the very words of God.” The result of “God’s breathing” is writings known as “Scriptures,” i.e. texts made up of words. And so we can speak of verbal inspiration. However, we may ask, “What about the writings of the New Testament? Are they to be considered Scripture in the same sense as the Old Testament and therefore God-breathed as well?” In 2 Peter 3:16, Peter’s statement, “the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures” (ESV), has the effect of putting Paul’s writings in the same category with other books that were regarded as Scripture. Richard Bauckham concludes that the use of “the definite article (“the other Scriptures”) requires us to give it (“Scriptures”) its technical sense (as always in the New Testament) of ‘inspired, authoritative writings,’ i.e. ‘Scriptures.’” Bauckham goes on to state, “The inclusion of Paul’s letters in this category certainly means that they are regarded as inspired, authoritative writings (as verse 16 in fact says), ranked alongside the Old Testament and probably other apostolic writings.” John identified what he was writing with God’s Word and truth, making his words the standard of measurement. “We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood” (1 John 4:6). John’s Gospel states about this book, “This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true” (John 21:24). The entire Book of Revelation is

the result of John’s being commanded to write. At the end he speaks of the punishment upon anyone who adds to or subtracts from what has been written in that book of prophecy (Revelation 22:1819). What Paul wrote to the Thessalonians was accepted by them for what it really was, the Word of God (1 Thessalonians 2:13; see also 1 Corinthians 2:10 and 14:37; Galatians 1:8,11-12). Luke says that his writings have the purpose of an “orderly account” so that Theophilus would “know the certainty of the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:1-4). Gerhard Maier notes that in “1 Timothy 5:18 Paul quotes a saying of Jesus (Luke 10:7; Matthew 10:10) as ‘Scripture’ and places it on the same level with the Torah (Deuteronomy 25:4).” The New Testament writers regarded the Scriptures as God-breathed being extended from the prophetic period to their own time. The God-breathed Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, are God’s Word and therefore it is through this Word that God speaks to us. We have no other word from him. As God’s Word, the Scriptures speak with the authority and power of God. Here Christ and his saving work for sinners are at the center (Luke 24:27). As the disciples said to Jesus, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Dr. Eugene Boe, Ph.D is Dean of Lutheran Brethren Seminary in Fergus Falls, MN and Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology. Visit Lutheran Brethren Seminary online at www.lbs.edu

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Our Hope Endures ANONYMOUS

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ue is our firstborn. She was a fervent believer and Bible student as a child and teenager. We often discussed Scripture passages, theology and the Christian life. She joined the church before college, led college dorm Bible studies, and attended the student mission conferences. Things changed midway through college. We don’t know what happened but we clearly remember the time and place where she told us she no longer believed in Jesus Christ. We were devastated. She explained that she could not accept that Jesus’ death and resurrection was the only means by which people could enter heaven. Though not an atheist, she said she was no longer a Christian in the sense in which we use the term. Scripture teaches that apart from 8

accepting Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior, Sue will not enter the kingdom of heaven. And that broke our hearts. We earnestly prayed for the Holy Spirit to bring her back to Jesus Christ. Our time frame was six months. But we did not see that happen. Sue worked hard, and found a good position in a promising career. We rejoiced in her achievements and thanked the Lord for those blessings. But we longed to hear her pray, play a gospel song, or quote the Bible. We questioned our parenting, pressed God to answer our prayer, and longed to talk with her about her spiritual journey. We wavered between confidence that the Lord would save her and despair that she was hardening her heart. Doubt and despair grew to bewilderment and anguish when, some years later, Sue

told us that she was sexually attracted to females. She said that she was a lesbian and that she had found a new peace in finally acknowledging who she was. As parents, we were faced with the realization that our daughter was living a lifestyle that was leading her further away from the truth found in the Scriptures that she believed so passionately as a child. We found ourselves in a place we never expected to be. We cried and prayed. We were exhausted during the day and wakeful at night. We asked what we had done wrong, but God spared us from blaming each other for our daughter’s choices and lifestyle. We watched our other children struggle, and wonder how well they really knew their sister. In the middle of it all, we thanked the Lord for her siblings’ steady faith in him. We grew Faith & Fellowship


in our knowledge of our daily dependence on Christ’s mercy and keeping. Sue is thoughtful and kind. She is attentive to our needs. In many ways, Sue is a model daughter. We love her and she loves us. She listens when we share our life: the spiritual, emotional and physical aspects. On the other hand, we differ. She thinks we should agree that she was born with same-sex attraction and accept it as something as natural as one’s race. We know there is much we don’t understand about ourselves but we believe sexual union is God’s gift to a married husband and wife. Even more deeply, we know that the foundational issue is Sue’s relationship to Jesus Christ. Only through Jesus Christ will she believe him, repent of sin, and receive the will and ability to live for his www.ffmagazine.org

glory. She lives in a world where things that offend the Lord are considered normal, even more enlightened than Scripture. We know “straights” who also think their ways are better than the Lord’s, but the reality is that only Jesus can deliver our daughter. When she returns to Jesus, she will be at odds with many long-time friends and colleagues. What we thought was a 6-18 month spiritual struggle has become a decade of intercession for our daughter’s salvation. We pray in faith and hope because of God’s promises and Christ Jesus’ redemption from sin, self and Satan. We continue to stand in his grace, and only because of grace. We remember that we are his children because while we were hostile and rebellious sinners, God loved and died for us (Romans 5:8,10). It

required as much of Jesus’ blood to save our souls as is required to redeem, call and bring our girl to glory. Our hope endures because God is calling lost people to life in him. We have no evidence that Sue will be saved other than God’s love and faithfulness, but what else do we need? What else would be more reassuring? We have confidence that God will rescue her – maybe after our death. In that hope we live.

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F cus Family Matters

Instruction Manual for Life

ROY HEGGLAND

T

he responsibility of a faithful steward is to care for the resources entrusted to him by investing and using those resources in accordance with the wishes of the owner. The greater and more complicated the resources, the longer the owner’s list of instructions is likely to be. Scripture tells us that we as Christians are not owners but stewards of everything God has given to us. God has not only entrusted us with material possessions, but also with more complicated resources like our families, our time, our abilities, our attitudes and our desires. Certainly, then, we might logically conclude that God’s list of instructions to us must be very long and complicated to ensure that we are able to faithfully carry out our duties as stewards. Many would say that is exactly why the Bible is so long and complicated. After all, an instruction manual for managing everything in life would have to be very involved to cover all the potential things that life may throw our way. But is that really why God gave us the Scriptures – as a manual for managing our lives? During his three years of ministry, Jesus once stopped in his hometown after being in a nearby town where he raised a young girl from the dead and a woman was healed of a serious illness just by touching his coat. But when he returned to Nazareth, the Gospel of Mark tells us that Jesus could not do any mighty works there. In fact, Jesus marveled at their unbelief. The very people who knew all about Jesus, his history, his family, and his friends, were the ones who didn’t

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believe. How is that possible? Wouldn’t it make sense that the more people knew about Jesus, the more likely they would be to believe in him? How can it be that the people who knew the most about Jesus didn’t believe in him? Can we know all about a person but still not know that person? Is it possible to read the Bible as an instruction manual, knowing lots of things about God and how he wants us to manage his resources as good stewards but miss the very heart of his Word? Can we, like the Nazarenes, know everything about him and yet not know him? Stewardship is all about knowing the Owner of our resources, not about following a manual for successful management of them. Certainly the Bible shows us God’s will for our fallen race, ONLINE:

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but his will for us is life – not rules; it is transformation – not merely education. Knowing the Owner does involve studying and knowing his Word, but that Word is not a mere description of how we should live or even how Jesus lived – it is life itself, the Word himself. He wants to live in us and through us to enable us to steward all things for the glory of God. May God give us faith to believe in him so that he can do great works in us and through us. Roy Heggland serves the Church of the Lutheran Brethren as Associate for Biblical Stewardship.

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Women’s Ministries Church of the Lutheran Brethren

Donna, Joan and the Rest of Us

CHERYL OLSEN

I

was new at the Women’s Bible Study as someone shared a prayer request: “Pray for Donna, Joan’s sister who has cancer.” That’s how I first heard Donna’s name. She was the sister of Joan, the woman who usually led the study – but Joan and her husband were in England – and it was her sister who had cancer. I dutifully noted her name on a page of my Bible Study book. Didn’t know her. Didn’t know her sister. Didn’t think too much about her, but God did. Every once in awhile, I was reminded to pray for Donna. I prayed about her cancer, prayed for her fear, prayed for her salvation. Others, who knew Joan, prayed diligently – and those who knew Donna prayed even more! Some sent cards, others visited. Eventually we heard that Donna’s surgery had been quite successful. Prayers answered! She didn’t attend our church, didn’t attend any church, really. Yet it was evident that these women not only cared about her soul, but about her as a person. Donna’s body was better now – but not her soul. The next fall, Joan was back home and leading our Bible Study. I got to know her, to appreciate her humor, her insights, her love for our Lord. I could see that Joan had no problem being outspoken about her beliefs. Donna knew about Joan’s faith, but she wanted none of it. Time passed. Donna’s cancer returned. Prayers resumed – or continued. Joan had claimed “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4), knowing in her heart that God does not want anyone to be lost. She had prayed for her sister for years, but it was a difficult relationship. Now the church joined her. Donna was remembered frequently at Bible Study in prayer for her chemo treatments or doctor visits. Her name became a weekly fixture in our Sunday bulletin list of many prayer requests. She even came to church a time or two and was warmly welcomed. www.ffmagazine.org

She appreciated the cards and letters she’d received from our Bible Study group, most of whom had never met her. More than health, we knew she needed spiritual healing. And though Joan is a respected Bible teacher, her words had no noticeable impact on her older sister’s life. But God was working. He was using his Word that he promised “would not return empty.” He was working through the visits of Pastor Marty and others. He was prompting the prayers of many who knew her well, or hardly at all. He even used the shockingly untimely death of Joan’s husband – for Joan’s unshakable faith in God, despite this devastating blow, was evident to all. He was using the kind actions of a whole church family. Looking back, it was as if he were putting the pieces of a puzzle together and saving the last piece for Joan. One day Donna asked to speak alone with Joan. Donna expressed her fear of where she was going, recognizing that she hadn’t led a model life. “What’s going to happen to me?” Joan told her that she could know what would happen. She could be certain she’d meet Jesus in heaven, if she accepted him as her Savior, asking his forgiveness for her sins. Joan said no more, almost expecting a sarcastic response as usual. Instead, Donna was

very quiet. Then, “I just blurted it out!” Joan said later, “I asked, ‘Do you want to do that right now?’ And she said, ‘Yes.’” Donna prayed with her sister, and she became one of “those Christians” she had scorned! The next day she was already telling someone, “Did you know that I became a Christian yesterday?” As for the rest of us, Pastor Marty announced it Sunday, and the whole church burst into applause, some giving God a standing ovation! Weeks later Joan was cradling Donna in her arms, sending her off to see Jesus, thankful that God gave her the opportunity to ask her sister the most important question of her life. Cheryl Olsen is Information Coordinator for Women’s Ministries of the CLB.

Hope for the Journey August 4, 2012

9:00am-4:30pm Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. Bethel Lutheran Church

Fergus Falls, MN

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Authentic Gospel, Relevant Witness GAYLAN MATHIESEN

W

e live in exciting and challenging times. In many of our churches there is a fair amount of speculation about the future of the Church and its mission. Some are fearful. Others are eager to revisit the meaning and purpose of the Church in the light of God’s Word, wanting to learn how to bring an authentic and relevant Gospel witness to our neighbors near and far. This quest is nothing new, of course; in all times, heralds of the Gospel have striven to effectively proclaim its message without compromise in terms that their audience could understand. But this is no small undertaking, and it is one that is fraught with pitfalls. At times we face temptation to compromise the message in order to win acceptance and a following; and resisting such compromise can be costly. Thankfully, there is a long history of those who have been willing to pay the price to proclaim an authentic Gospel. In the Old Testament, for example, the Lord’s prophets frequently found 12

themselves to be enemies of their kings, competing with self-appointed soothsayers who sold a non-offensive message in exchange for wealth and power. A curious case is that of Israel’s King Ahab, who employed as many as 400 false prophets, who were all too eager to speak pleasing and flattering words to their king. In one instance, when Ahab was preparing for war, the Lord sent a lying spirit to speak through Ahab’s band of prophets, to lure Ahab to his death in battle. The Lord’s prophet, Micaiah, warned the king, but Ahab’s disdain for God’s Word cost him his life and brought down a curse on his family (1 Kings 22). Jesus met the same resistance to God’s message in his day as he crossed swords in word and deed with Israel’s powerful teachers of false religion. In one instance, Jesus directly confronted this religious elite through a parable in which an absentee vineyard owner sent servants to collect his rightful share from the tenant farmers. They reciprocated by

killing each servant that he sent. Finally, the owner sent his son, hoping the tenants would respect him; but, driven by greed, they foolishly killed his son as well (Luke 20:9-19). Much to Jesus’ dismay, those elite members of his audience were not willing to subject themselves to God’s Word, and so could only take offense at the truth. “The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest him immediately, because they knew he had spoken this parable against them” (Luke 20:19). Truth is often offensive to us sinners, and the temptation to make the Gospel more palatable or to bend it to our own purposes is always with us. It might be enticing, for example, for a pastor to assume the mantle of a fiery prophet and hurl scolding bolts of lightning at his unsuspecting parishioners from the pulpit – but, aside from being a false gospel, motivation though guilt and shame is short-lived at best, and destructive over time. Others will stay away from the Law Faith & Fellowship


and any mention of sin altogether, so as not to appear legalistic or negative, instead dispensing weekly doses of spiritual sedatives. Still others use the “health and wealth” message or “Three Keys to a More Successful (you fill in the blank)” motivational sermons to pack their pews. Then there’s the pastor who strives to be hip or edgy – there are numerous enticing approaches to pick from. The practice of these and more serve as evidence that we think we need something other than, or at least more than, the simple Gospel to be properly effective in ministry. So, if we just preach biblical sermons, emphasizing the Law and the Gospel, all will be well then, right? Faithfulness to the Word of God is certainly a worthy goal; but let us also remember the purpose for which God gave us the Bible. We translate it, we teach and preach it, and we live it out as a communication of God’s heart message to us. God revealed his Word to us in human language, in literary genre, through stories, allegories and parables. www.ffmagazine.org

He intends that we communicate it to real people in real cultures and in real settings. We might ask the question: Are we truly proclaiming if we’re not communicating? Merely throwing words at people is not communication. A truly faithful witness of the Gospel will also emulate the examples of Jesus, the apostles, prophets and others. They all thoughtfully and prayerfully constructed their message that they might effectively communicate God’s heart to people in terms that they could relate to and understand. Good communicators recognize that faithfulness and relevance complement each other, while one without the other more often than not ends up like good seed sown on a hardened path: “and the birds came and ate it up” (Matthew 13:4). We also take note, however, that even the most faithful and relevant proclamation will not in every instance be well-received. Ahab hated the prophet Micaiah; Stephen was stoned; John the Baptist was beheaded, and the list goes

on. Being true to the authentic biblical message will at times be very costly to us. Jesus warned his disciples, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (John 15:18). The greatest pain in any ministry can come from those you love the most, who reject the best you have to give. It is in the nature of the Gospel that it can be refused. Over this we have little or no control, and we have no recourse but to leave the results to the Holy Spirit. We have no means by which to remove the offense of the Gospel, other than to compromise the Gospel. What we can do is to make as certain as possible that it is the Gospel, and not us, that offends. Dr. Gaylan Mathiesen, Ph.D is Professor of Missions at Lutheran Brethren Seminary, Fergus Falls, MN. Visit Lutheran Brethren Seminary online at www.lbs.edu

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North American Mission

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Immanuel:Restart STAN OLSEN

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t all started over a year ago when one of the elders from Immanuel Lutheran Brethren Church in Pasadena, California asked me about what the restart of a congregation meant. He was aware that the Church of the Lutheran Brethren had done a few “restarts” over the last few years. He was curious because his congregation had been in decline and he, along with others, realized that something had to be done if their congregation was going to survive. So I described what a restart entailed – what had been done elsewhere, what had been learned, and what could be done together with Immanuel. I didn’t “pull any punches.” I outlined that there were a few essential elements such as a restart pastor, a ministry team to work with the pastor, a transition leadership team, and a workable financial plan. I explained that these were all “deal breakers” – if any one of them couldn’t be established, the whole process would stop. I also explained that the likelihood of all of these elements coming together was slim and that if this were to happen, it wouldn’t be by human effort but only by God’s grace and his doing. I suspected that would be the end of that conversation, but I was wrong. To my surprise, but also to my delight, the leadership of Immanuel wanted to hear more and indicated an interest and willingness to engage in the process. So, to telescope the last year, the congregation voted to embark on the process, adopted a memorandum of understanding, and affirmed the transition leadership team that has now begun meeting and planning. This brings us to the present time. The process is at a point where the information about this restart effort needs to be spread far and wide so that the Lord can begin raising up the people that he 14

The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” Genesis 12:1

Pasadena, California

is calling to be a part of this God-driven endeavor. The bar is incredibly high for both the restart pastor and the ministry team members. We’re asking the restart pastor to move to Pasadena in order to engage the people in the area around the church in building a new congregation – with no guarantee of the effort surviving long-term. Clearly, this isn’t a call to bask in the sun of southern California. Anyone embarking on this road will have to have an unmistakable call from the Lord. In terms of the ministry team members, we’re asking individuals or families to move to Pasadena, find jobs, and secure housing in the neighborhood of the church, all for the purpose of actively engaging in restarting a church. Pretty crazy, huh? As crazy as it may seem, we believe that God will be (or already is) calling people to do exactly this – young adults, young families, middle-aged couples, retired seniors, whoever. We are trusting that God is putting this team of people together to restart a church in an urban environment to reach people who don’t know him – to bring glory to himself!

So, how about you? Is the Lord stirring a desire in you to follow his call to a huge city that may be a great distance away from you now? Is he calling you to embark on a “crazy” adventure? If this restart effort happens, it will be a testimony to God’s grace. He alone will get the glory because this can only happen if he brings it about. Is he calling you to be a part of this Goddriven endeavor, this great adventure? If he is, we need to hear from you! And for the rest of you, we need your prayers that this effort may move forward by his grace. If God is calling you to be a member of the ministry team, give me a call! If you’re a pastor, and God is calling you to lead this effort, give me a call – let’s see what God is going to do! Rev. Stan Olsen is Regional Pastor for the CLB Pacific Region.

IMMANUEL:RESTART IS GOD CALLING YOU TO PASADENA?

Rev. Stan Olsen • Cell: 218-731-0042

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Lutheran Brethren

International Mission BRINGING THE GOOD NEWS TO UNREACHED PEOPLE

34 Years in Japan ARNIE AND BONITA NORDAAS

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hen we came to Japan 34 years ago, the first advice that we got from a veteran Japanese pastor and his wife was “listen” and “have patience.” On both counts we have often come up short, but when we have practiced those principles in our work with our Japanese brothers and sisters, we have observed what St. Paul described in 1 Corinthians 3:7. Paul points out that some people plant the seed, others water it, some harvest, but it is God who gives the increase. We have had the privilege of planting the seed in the hearts of many Japanese friends, both adults and children, through Sunday School, worship services, children and adult English conversation class chapels, special events and daily life. Some of them came to faith while we were with them, but more often our part was to either plant the seed or to water seed that others planted long before we came to Japan. When we look back on the people whom we have been privileged to baptize, we see that the key was “listening” and “patience.” For example, Keiko was baptized last year in September, but the seed was first planted by her Christian aunt 48 years ago when Keiko was a high school student. We met her six years ago and began to listen to her story. By listening, we and other church members gained the opportunity to tell her about the hope that we have found and to introduce 16

Amy, Arnie, Laura, and Bonita (1988)

her to the God of all hope (Romans 15:13). Eventually she found that hope for herself and desired baptism. Patience – 48 years, but it was God who caused the seed to grow. On other occasions growth happened much more quickly. Kanako joined our English conversation class and started going to church. Within the year she decided to be baptized. In 34 years we have never been the “Lone Ranger” who single-handedly contacted, evangelized, baptized and discipled someone. However, working together with our Japanese brothers and sisters, we have had the privilege in God’s time to plant, water and harvest. We have also had the privilege to pass on

what we have learned to Sunday School teachers in the churches that we helped to plant, and to the seminary students we helped to train over many years. To God be the glory. Missionaries Arnie and Bonita Nordaas have served with Lutheran Brethren International Mission in Japan since 1978.

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Arnie and Bonita, We Say, ‘Thank You!’ MATTHEW ROGNESS

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he Nordaases will be leaving Japan at the end of May after 34 years of ministry. Arnie and Bonita have been involved in many different aspects of our mission work in Japan. Here are some highlights of their years there: September 1978 - December 1980 Studied the Japanese language in Tokyo. January 1980 - July 1985 Planted the church in Hachinohe. Began English classes with short-term teachers. July 1985 - July 1986 Arnie completed MTh at Bethel Seminary while on furlough. Bonita and Arnie (2011)

July 1986 - March 1990 Professor at Akita Seminary in Biblical Studies and Missions. Began English classes with short-term teachers in five Akita City churches.

She completed her Master of Arts ESL and became the teacher-trainer for the short-term teachers.

March 1990 Moved to Sendai with the relocated seminary.

August 2001 - May 2012 Moved to Takanosu to plant and pastor a church. Began English classes. Arnie taught three-day lectures at the seminary in Sendai two times a year.

March 1990 - 2001 Professor at the seminary and Associate Pastor at the Seminary Church. During this time Arnie became Pastor of Izumi Chapel while he continued teaching fulltime at the seminary. Bonita taught English classes at Ayashi.

We are grateful to God for the faithful ministry of Arnie and Bonita. The following statement highlights their heart for the lost. “It is our greatest joy to watch new believers as they are so excited about each new thing they experience and learn about their Lord.”

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Arnie and Bonita will be visiting many of their supporting congregations from June-September. They will be recognized at the Biennial Convention in August and will officially retire at the end of September. God’s richest blessings, Arnie and Bonita. Rev. Matthew Rogness is Director of International Mission for the Church of the Lutheran Brethren.

LBIM

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New Website: www.LBS.edu

Complex, Yet so Simple BRAD PRIBBENOW

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hen students arrive at Lutheran Brethren Seminary (LBS) to begin their ministry education, training and formation, they enter into a season of life that can be both exhilarating and exhausting. Moving to a new (and often smaller) city, arranging for housing and schooling for family, and finding a source(s) of employment can take one from the heights of excitement to the valleys of anxiety. And, then there’s the whole schoolwork side of things… Having graduated from LBS in 2008 and having just finished the coursework phase of a PhD program in Biblical Studies at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, I know a little something of what our students are experiencing. I moved my family to a new (much larger) city, my wife and I both had to find new jobs, my kids started in new schools, and we all left many close friends behind in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. And then there was the whole schoolwork thing… Seminary training, whether in a Master of Divinity or a PhD program, includes intensive reading and study. On a personal level, while I am very thankful for the training and education I received at the Lutheran Brethren Seminary, it took me only about two days of PhD classes to realize that I had much to learn! The reality is that theological study is hard, disciplined, time-consuming work. It seems that the amount of new information one must consider, read, process, evaluate, synthesize, reorganize, and apply is never-ending! Every verse and phrase in the Bible has innumerable volumes written about it. As ministers of the Gospel we do well to consider as much of this material as possible (at least the significant writings) so that we can teach and proclaim God’s Word with clarity and understanding. This is what a well-trained theologian does. We 18

New LBS Professor Brad Pribbenow and his family • Clockwise, from bottom left: Elise, Elliot, Emily, Melissa, Elias, and Brad

want our LBS graduates to have a keen appreciation for the disciplined work of theological study. In addition to a humble, Christ-like character, we also want them to have skills and knowledge that will serve them effectively in the ministry, missions or pastoral positions to which the Lord is calling them. Yet at the same time we would fail in our calling to serve Christ and his Church if we did not also impart to each of our students this simple truth: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). This is the heart of the Gospel that is the central message of the Bible. As complex as theological study can be, it must always serve the confident

and persistent proclamation of this Good News about Jesus Christ in our local churches, our communities and in all the world. I am excited and humbled to join the faculty of the Lutheran Brethren Seminary. And I welcome the opportunity along with the rest of our faculty and staff to encourage and equip many church leaders, missionaries and pastors through our seminary. To God be the glory! Rev. Brad Pribbenow, Professor of Old Testament Lutheran Brethren Seminary, Fergus Falls, MN. Visit Lutheran Brethren Seminary online at www.lbs.edu

Faith & Fellowship


Fellowship with one another

JULY/AUGUST 2012

Purifies us from all sin

Walk in the light

The blood of Jesus

1 John 1:7

Elder Ordinations

Pastor Ordination On Sunday May 6, Stavanger Lutheran Church in Fergus Falls, MN celebrated the ordination of Pastor Troy Tysdal. Rev. Brent Juliot led the service, while Regional Pastor Joel Nordtvedt officiated over the ordination.

Larry Blades, CLBC President Jonathon Overland, Ron Engen, Wally Lunty, Ed Mitzke, Canadian Regional Pastor Art Hundeby, Pastor Roger Olson

Ron Engen and Ed Mitzke were ordained as elders at Living Hope Lutheran Church in Beaumont, AB on April 22, 2012.

Regional Pastor Joel Nordtvedt, Rev. Troy Tysdal, and Rev. Brent Juliot

Pastor Installation Arlan Nelson, Pastor Craig Jennings, Ryan Henry, Keith Steinke, Regional Pastor Gary Witkop, and Rollin Tonneson.

Ryan Henry was installed as elder on April 22, 2012 at Grace Lutheran Brethren Church in Bottineau, ND.

Bill Snyder, Steve Andersen, Pastor Chris Priestaf, Billy Williams, Pastor Dan Christenson, Herb Jacobsen, and Steven Listor

...because of your partnership On April 29, Billy Williams was ordained as an elder in Bethel the gospel of Mt. LB Church... in Mt. Bethel, PA.

Pastor Andy Olsen kneeling during the installation service at 59th Street LB Church

“...because of your partnership in the gospel

From the first Day until of Now “...because your partnership in the gospel ...

… until the day of Jesus Christ.” Johnny Ashcraft, John Eicher, Regional Pastor Warren Geraghty, Dallas

Pastor Andy Olsen was installed at 59th Street LB Church in Brooklyn, NY on Sunday, June 3, 2012. Regional Pastor Warren Geraghty officiated at the installation service, which was a joint service of both Englishspeaking and Chinese-speaking departments. Pastor Novy Yiu of the Chinese-speaking department translated throughout the service.

“... because of your partnership in the gospel...

From the Day From the firstfirst Day until Now until Now ... until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:3-6)

Bethel Lutheran … until the day of JesusChurch Christ.”

Centennial 1912-2012 From the first Day Dave Ebbert was ordained as an elder of Pilgrim LB Bethel Lutheran Chur until Now Church on May 6 in Mentor OH. Bethel … until the day of Jesus Christ.” Centennial 1912-2012 utheran Church (Philippians 1:3-6) Centennial Celebration Weekend Oct. 27-28 Fergus Fa Centennial Saturday Oct 27 — Open House, Banquet Meal and P Rodgers, Sherry Ebbert, Jeff Hale, Dave Ebbert, Scott Skelton, Kurt Helfrich, (Philippiansand1:3-6) Pastor Bob Heggestad

(Philippians 1:3-6)

Centennial Celebration Weekend Oct. 27-28 Fergus Falls, MN Saturday Oct 27—Open House, Banquet Meal and Program Sunday Oct 28—Morning Worship Service

Faith & Fellowship is the official publication of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren, 1020 W. Alcott Ave., P.O. Box 655, Fergus Falls, MN 56538-0655, issued six times a year (January/February, March/April, May/June, July/August, September/October, November/December) by Faith and Fellowship Publishing, 1020 W. Alcott Ave., P.O. Box 655, Fergus Falls, MN 56538-0655. Phone (218)736-7357. The viewpoints expressed in the articles are those of the authors and may or may not necessarily reflect the official position of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren of America (CLBA). Periodicals Postage Paid at Fergus Falls, Minnesota 56538.

Bethel Lutheran Church 1912-2012 Sunday Oct 28 — Morning Worship Service Centennial 1912-2012 Centennial Celebration Weekend (USPS 184-600) • (ISSN 10741712)

SUBSCRIPTIONS: Faith & Fellowship is offered to its readers at no charge. We would encourage your continued support with a donation and if you would like to be on our mailing list, please contact our office. Periodicals Postage Paid at Fergus Falls, Minnesota. CHANGE OF ADDRESS: Please give both old and new addresses and allow four weeks.

Direct all correspondence, including submission of articles, to: Faith & Fellowship, P.O. Box 655, Fergus Falls, MN 56538-0655; ntennial Celebration Weekend Oct. 27-28 Fergus Falls, MN Oct. 27-28 Fergus Falls, MN Telephone, (218)736-7357; e-mail, ffpress@clba.org; FAX, (218)736-2200. turday Oct 27 — Send Open Banquet Meal and Program POSTMASTER: address House, Saturday Oct 27 — changes to Faith & Fellowship, P.O. Box 655, Fergus Falls, Minnesota 56538-0655 Sunday Oct 28 and — Morning n House, Banquet Meal Program Worship Service

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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.

Periodicals Postage Paid at Fergus Falls, Minnesota 56538

FF

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once met a young woman who was a direct descendant of the famous preacher Jonathan Edwards. When my aunt was in high school, she was friends with Ken Berry, who became a comic actor on Mayberry, RFD and The Carol Burnett Show. When I was in college, I met a man who said he was a cousin to Michael Learned, who starred in The Waltons. If you drive through Norfolk, Nebraska, you’ll see that the town identifies itself as the hometown of Johnny Carson, who starred as host of The Tonight Show for many years. We like to identify ourselves with famous people. If they are really famous people, then we can vicariously be a little bit famous for a little while. If they were only famous for 15 minutes, then maybe our identification with them can still slightly elevate us among our peers for 15 seconds. But that’s still something. In Mark 6 (see page 5), the folks in Nazareth didn’t identify with Jesus. Rather, they identified Jesus with themselves. There’s a world of difference. When they identify Jesus with themselves, they’re seeing him as one of the boys from town – good carpenter, good neighbor, regular guy. “Just like us,” they think. “But now he’s acting funny. He left town for a while, and now comes back with crazy ideas. Thinks he’s somebody special. Where did this wisdom come from, this knowledge of Scripture, this authority in speaking? He didn’t learn that from anybody in this town! And now he’s supposed to be a miracle-worker! No. It’s impossible. We know who he is.” And their familiarity breeds contempt. Worse, it breeds unbelief. Hard hearts. They think they know him so well that they don’t need to look again, or to listen. If only they’d chosen, along with Jesus’ disciples, to identify themselves with Jesus­­– instead of Jesus with themselves. His mother Mary identified herself with Jesus. Nicodemus identified himself with Jesus, as have millions since. We look up to him. We want to be connected to him. Not to share in his fame, but to share in his life. Good things come to us, not just because we by faith choose to identify ourselves with Christ, but because God the Father then chooses to identify us with Christ. And we find mercy, forgiveness, and righteousness as a gift. It makes quite a difference how we identify in regards to Jesus Christ. Identifying Christ with me? Big mistake. Identifying myself with Christ who died for me? This has eternal significance.

For change of address: Faith & Fellowship P.O. Box 655 Fergus Falls, MN 56538-0655

by: Brent Juliot

Faith Fellowship Church of the Lutheran Brethren

July/August 2012

Vol. 79, No. 4

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Faith & Fellowship magazine is a free publication funded by the ministries of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren. Our desire is to help the ministries by covering the cost of this magazine (pre-press, printing, and postage) with additional giving, that is, giving above and beyond what is normally received. If you have a heart for this publication, and the ability to contribute, we ask for your support.

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Abounding in Hope  

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