Last Words of Rev. Aaron Simms

These are the last public words of our faithful brother in Christ, Rev. Aaron Simms.  Keep St. John the Apostle Lutheran Church and the Simms family in your prayers as they continue to make known the Gospel of our risen Lord Jesus amidst the heartache and pain of this mortal life.  The everlasting victory belongs to our brother who faithfully taught God’s Word and confessed the all-sufficient work of Christ throughout His life.  Glory to God for the work that our Lord did through his servant, Aaron.

Rev. Aaron Simms writes,

He has risen (Luke 24:1-12).  This is the reason that we are celebrating today.  We are rejoicing in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ for us. 

Three days ago, on Friday, Christ died for your sins, being perfectly obedient to the Father and fulfilling all things.  He spilt his blood on the cross to atone for your sins; our great High Priest made the all-sufficient sacrifice of himself on your behalf.  On Saturday, yesterday, the Sabbath rest, the Lord’s body was sealed in the cool, stone tomb.  

But, now that rest is over and the Son has arisen.  Today is a new day, the eighth day of Christ’s Passion week, the first day of the beginning of the new creation.  In the original creation, God created in six days and rested on the seventh, and when the first day of the new week dawned things were all very good.  Now Christ has come to restore His fallen creation by working the six days of Passion week (culminating in the finishing work of the crucifixion), resting on the seventh, and rising on the first day of the new week so that all things can again become very good.

So, this is the Lord’s Day, Sunday, when Christ rose from the dead, the day of the empty tomb when Christ conquered death by rising to life, leaving the tomb behind, vacant and devoid of power.  And where death is conquered, sin is conquered as well, because it is sin which led to the intrusion of death into this world.  It is sin, the sin of Adam and Eve, which corrupted God’s good creation by bringing evil into it, including decay and death.   But, Christ has defeated all these; he has been victorious.

Therefore, Christ’s death and resurrection has far-reaching consequences that extend beyond our present lives.  For, it is not for this life only that we hope in Christ.  Christ did not die and rise for us so that we could have more money, more friends, or even more happiness in this life.  He didn’t die for us so that we could have our best life now.  

How often, though, are our hopes so small, so shortsighted, that they only encompass the span of our lives and end at our deaths.  St. Paul says that if this is the content of our hope, this life only, then “we are of all people most to be pitied.”  For if we look to Christ simply for blessings in this life, then we are missing the point.  For our best life now is not the content of our hope.  In fact, often times, we as Christians endure ridicule, suffering, persecution, and death for our faith; our lives now are often anything but peaceful and good.  Even today, Christians in Sri Lanka were killed at Easter worship services, just as Christians have been killed for their faith throughout history.  If this weren’t enough, we still have the temptations and pull of sin, still suffer decay, and still succumb to death, because although Christ has conquered, and although we have a foretaste of the “good,” things are not yet fully restored to as they should be.  Things are not yet “very good.”

So, St. Paul’s point to the congregation in Corinth, and to us as well, is that our hope does not end in death, because the proper object of our hope is the one who has died and yet has risen from the dead and now lives (1 Corinthians 15:19-26).  We trust in the one who has conquered sin and death on our behalf, so that just as we too will die someday we will yet live for eternity; our best life is yet to come in the restoration that he is bringing with him upon his return.  We will then be reunited with all the Church, including those Sri Lankan Christians who went to the grave today.

So, it is in this Jesus Christ, the one who died and yet rose on this day, that we truly have hope.  We were all born into the sin of Adam, cursed by decay and mortal death from the moment of our conception.  Our lives lead into death and destruction, and all the things we accumulate in this life go to someone else after we die.  If we want plenty of rest, the grave is where it is found, because this life is not easy, nor is it leisurely; we live by the sweat of our brow.  

But, Christ has a true rest in store for you that is not in the bed, nor is it in the grave.  For, Christ has died for your sins and conquered death for you.  It is through his work on the cross and empty tomb that you are saved and brought into the Sabbath rest. 

And Christ is the firstfruits of what is to come.  The firstfruits of a crop provides assurance that the rest of the crop is going to come in.  Christ is the firstfruits of the bodily resurrection, because he rose from the dead and therefore he is the guarantee and guarantor of your own resurrection.  The point is that because Christ died and rose, you can be sure that you will also rise, although you die.  So, your hope in him is not for this life only, but rather extends out into eternity where you will have rest from all your works and from sin and from death.  This is the grace and mercy of God that we see on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, that Christ has died and risen for you.  Friday we see the consequences of sin and death, as the sinless one died on our behalf; Sunday we see the consequences of God’s grace and power as that sin and death is defeated and life and light breaks into the darkness.  

So, all that plagues you in this life – illness, sorrow, decay, temptation, sin, grumbling, conflict – Christ has already defeated these through his cross and empty tomb.  These evils came into the world through the sin of Adam, but Christ defeated these enemies of his good creation.  And he has also defeated the ultimate enemy, which is death.

Death is still here with us, of course, in this life, but it is no longer the last word.  Death is our enemy and it is the enemy of God’s good creation, because it is not meant to be here; it intruded into creation through the sin of Adam.  But, this is not how things are meant to be.  God created you to live with Him forever, but sin got in the way and brought death and the other evils with it.  

However, as we have seen and heard, Christ – the new, perfect Adam – has defeated death; he rose from the dead, he left the tomb behind.  And he is returning to raise you up also.  

We confess we believe in the “resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.”  Thus, wherever your bodies are on that last day of this age, the day of his return, Christ will make you alive, body and soul reunited together.  If your ashes are in an urn or scattered over field or sea, Christ will make your body alive.  If your bones are in a grave, Christ will make you alive.  If your body is fallen on some battlefield far away from home, Christ will make you alive.  And if you are still alive in the body when Christ returns, he will make you truly alive.  For you will live for eternity.  And if it were possible for someone to peer into your graves and look for your bodies at that time, they would hear what the angels asked the women at Jesus’ tomb: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”

Because when Christ returns he will take death, which he has already defeated, and destroy it forever so that neither sin, nor death, nor the devil can plague God’s good creation any longer.  So, as the prophet Isaiah who saw that day says, no more will an infant live but a few days or an old man die, because death will be no more (Isaiah 65:17-25).  There will be no more war, no more sorrow, no more death, and the “wolf and the lamb shall graze together.”  There will finally be peace, eternal peace.

And you will finally meet in person the Church that has come before you and the Church that comes after you.  And you will all then live eternally in the glory of the Lord in a new, restored creation – a new heavens and a new earth.  The former sorrows and pains that you had, and death that you experienced will be no more, nor will they be remembered or come to mind.  For you will inhabit the new Jerusalem, with no sin or evil or death in it; just the Lord and His people dwelling together forever and enjoying God’s good and perfect creation.  

All this because Jesus Christ has risen from the grave.  And this victory is yours, because He has willed it to you through the testament of his blood.  

So, Easter morning when Christ rose is the day we celebrate every Sunday, and indeed every day as we live out our lives together, as his people, in the light of his victory and in the hope we have in him.  

“This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”   He is risen!  He has risen indeed, Alleluia!  

Amen.

Why Plant a Church?

Why should any of us be so concerned about planting a church?  Aren’t there plenty of Christian churches already around us?  Aren’t there churches with much better facilities?  And much more effective programs?  Wouldn’t they be better at helping people understand the Gospel and find a church?  Why do we need to be so concerned about what we are doing?  Read Matthew 28:19-20.  The words are “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have observe all that I have commanded you.”  Christ clearly commands us to go to baptize all nations and to teach all that He has commanded us.  The tense of this Greek word “Go!” basically says “having already gone,” baptize and teach.  This is not a job we ever walk away from.  It is protocol for the entire Christian Church on earth.  Also, we are assured here that until the close of the age, Jesus says there will be a holy Christian people with whom He will dwell.  He says “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  The question is, “how can these holy people be found or recognized?”  Martin Luther writes that these holy Christian people can be recognized by these seven things:

  1. Possession of God’s Holy Word in its entirety (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
  2. Holy Baptism rightly administered (Acts 2:38-41).
  3. The Sacrament of the Altar rightly administered (Acts 2:42).
  4. The Office of the Keys exercised publicly (John 20:23).
  5. The Office of the Ministry called pastors who administer the above four things (Acts 20:38).
  6. Prayer, public praise, and thanksgiving to God (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
  7. Possession of the sacred cross in proclamation and participation (Galatians 6:14).

Luther’s Works, Volume 41, Pages 148-165.

Ask yourself.  Where can you find all these things in one place?

Although there are churches around us, these precious things are not all around us.  And yet these things are the reason for our courage.  Although we are sinners whose only consolation is the mercy of the cross of our Savior, time and time again we are steadied by our convictions in the Word of God and the necessity for the people around us to hear the eternal Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ clearly (Romans 1:16).  We are moved by our conviction of God’s mighty power in Holy Baptism (Romans 6:3-5), the necessity of the forgiveness of sins (John 20:23), and the great benefits of the Lord’s Supper (John 6:54).  People need the Good News of Christ in these days!  They need His concrete means of grace!  The Holy Spirit has given us the desire for others to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).  The result of these 7 marks of the Church is Christian love empowered by the Holy Spirit.

So . . . Trinity Lutheran Church is going into Norcross.  They will bring these blessings to the lost and also disciple the saved.  Keep them in your prayers as things begin on April 14, 2019!  Glory to God and salvation to man!

Holy Trinity Lutheran Logo with Schedule

 

 

Trinity Lutheran starts in Norcross!

On April 14, 2019, Trinity Lutheran Church begins Word and Sacrament ministry in Norcross, Georgia!

Trinity’s new location will be at Norcross Elementary School (150 Hunt St. Norcross 30071).  Both worship and Bible study will be in the cafeteria.

Trinity Lutheran Norcross logo with schedule

Get the word out so that people looking for a good church in Norcross can start to gather!  Worship and Bible Study begins at Norcross Elementary School on April 14.  Plan on attending and supporting the ministry as it reaches out to all people in the area with God’s eternal Word and gracious Gifts!

More information on Trinity Lutheran can be found at http://www.TrinityLutheran.net.

 

When Walls Speak (from H. Asburry)

Read this ridiculously good blog from Hillary Asbury who writes for Jagged Word…

 

I used to love spending time at my friends’ houses as a kid. It was a new environment, one that was different from my own. The smells were different, the furniture and color schemes were different, and many times the rules were different too. It fascinated me.

I think you can tell a lot about a person or family simply by walking into their house.

Some houses feel sterile and controlled, others are homey and lived in. Some feel chaotic and neglected, others are warm and cared for. A lot of this has to do with how the family simply exists within the house, how they interact, the words and tones they use to communicate with each other. Some of it has to do with the way the house is physically cared for, and a lot of it is affected by the atmosphere created by decorations, heirlooms, nick knacks, or trinkets. Is the house essentially a large display case for Start Trek memorabilia, or are the walls bare except for a few pieces of modern art? Are the shelves lined with pictures of family and loved ones, or are they stocked with treasures from past travels? When you walk into another person’s house, you can get a pretty clear snapshot of who they are and what is important to them.

It’s quite an intimate experience if you think about it.

I don’t think churches are any different. Every church has its own feel, its own architecture and set-up. The pews may be made of solid wood or softly cushioned. The chapel my be designed to face the pulpit and lectern face-on, or curve around the cross. A baptismal font may be found at the entrance to the sanctuary or at the front of the chapel. You can walk into a church and immediately get a feel for what is important there.

Just like every family has its own story, every congregation has its own history, and the houses in which each live become a reflection of those histories.

There is one big difference I have noticed lately, though. No one ever questions the importance of maintaining the comfort and beauty of a house. Wallpaper starts to peel and we replace it with new paint. We hire plumbers and electricians to keep our houses running efficiently. Our color schemes or décor become outdated and we update or replace them without question. We provide safe and attractive toys and equipment for our children. We decorate with enthusiasm.

When we move to do the very same things in our churches, however, it is often scoffed at or ridiculed.

Many believe we should be doing other things with the Church’s money- feeding the poor or ending homelessness. Some say that by beautifying and updating our churches we are putting our priorities in the wrong place, in superficial, worldly matters. Some worry that when the world sees our beautiful, well maintained facilities we will be judged as being selfish with our resources. I really can’t blame those who see it this way, the Church does have a history of existing in extravagance while the surrounding people suffered- stealing from the poor and enjoying the spoils. I don’t think that is really what we are talking about here, though. We are talking about being good stewards, being trusted with a little (ensuring that a church and its congregants are healthy and flourishing) so that we may be trusted with a lot (doing the same for the surrounding community).

A house is a place in which a family is nurtured and cared for so that they will have the strength and energy to go out into the world and do their work.

A church is very much the same. We need to ensure that we are building a nurturing place in which to feed people’s souls and speak the Gospel- a place where congregants can find rest, be strengthened and fortified, so that they can then go out into the world and serve their neighbors.

We sometimes forget that spending time and money on our churches does serve the greater community.

We forget that the surrounding neighborhood benefited from my church’s playground, that artwork in a sanctuary can be viewed for free by anyone on a Sunday morning. Not only do these things inherently serve our community, but they create more opportunities to speak the Word of God to those that need to hear it.

They also show our community, and potential future congregants, that we can be trusted to take care of what has been given to us, that we take those gifts seriously, and that we have the capacity to give them the support and nurturing they need.

We must keep in mind that the way we care for and maintain our churches not only reflects our history and identity as a congregation but it also speaks to who we are as God’s children, as stewards of His gifts. Most of all, though, we must keep in mind that it reflects our theology and affects the ways in which we are able to present the Gospel.

By Hillary Asbury –

Kairos Network Meeting (October 2018)

Saints of God, only through the atoning blood of the Son of God,

The next Kairos Network mission meeting will be at Rivercliff Lutheran Church in Sandy Springs, GA on October 13 at 9:30 AM.

Coupled with the Circuit Forum for our Atlanta North congregations, we will be discussing the mission and direction of our newest church plant – Trinity Lutheran Church.  We can’t wait for you to come and hear about it!

The schedule for the dual meetings are below.

9:30 – 10:00    Fellowship and Devotion
10:00 – 10:30   Elections / Business
10:30 – 11:30   Outreach in the North Atlanta Circuit
                                – Kairos update
                                – District initiative
                                – Outreach opportunities: A time of brainstorming ideas
11:30                   Close with prayer

 

+Soli Deo Gloria

Part 1 to Droege Boys Dropped!

Here is Part 1 to the 50 hour survival challenge to support Stepping Stone Mission in Atlanta, Georgia.

In the first 25 hours, Isaac, Luke, Tim, and Jay have to make a crude shelter in the rain with no fire before night fall.  Part 2 is coming soon…

 

Vicar Baroi’s New Wheels

Isaac Baroi presently works as a vicar at Living Faith Lutheran Church and Grace Lutheran in Midtown as he prepares for the pastoral ministry through Concordia Seminary St. Louis.  He is studying through Concordia’s Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology.  Under the Lord’s direction and provision, he will eventually start a Lutheran Church that will reach out primarily to refugee families in the Clarkston, Georgia area.  Vicar Baroi is very grateful to all the dear saints of God who generously provided him with a wonderful, dependable vehicle for his work and ministry.  Glory and thanks to God!

To give you an idea of the future of the ministry, these are the articles of belief for the new LCMS congregation.  We thank Rev. Bruce Lieske for serving as the architect for the document.

 

Vicar Baroi

BY-LAWS

IN GOD WE TRUST LUTHERAN CHURCH

 ARTICLE I.  PURPOSE

The single purpose of  In God We Trust (hereafter, “IGWT”) is to win Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and other unbelievers as disciples of Jesus, as he said: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19) and as exemplified in Revelation 7:9:  “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.”

This purpose will be accomplished by proclaiming the Gospel to the aforementioned people groups through printed, broadcast and personal word in the following ways:

  1. Identify, train, equip and deploy missionaries for the work of evangelism.
  2. Study and teach about Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism so that Christians    may better understand these people groups and reach those trapped in idolatry.
  3. Develop a missiology for this evangelism which is congruent with our confessional Lutheran theological position.
  4. Produce or identify pamphlets, curricula, tracts and audio-visuals for use by
  5. Equip interested Christians to actively share the Gospel in a loving, respectful, bold and prayerful manner.
  6. Mentor LCMS congregations on how to assimilate Christians from Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist backgrounds into their congregations.
  7. Raise prayer, volunteer, and financial support to accomplish this work.
  8. Establish branches which will be led by a missionary.

ARTICLE II.  DOCTRINAL STANDARDS

IGWT affirms that “all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).  As a result of affirming these truths, IGWT also holds the following convictions:

  1. We believe in the full and verbal inspiration and authority of all the 66 canonical books of the Old Testament and New Testament as the divinely inspired and           inerrant Word of God and submit to them as the only infallible authority in all           matters of faith and practice.
  2. We believe all the confessional writings in the Book of Concord of the year 1580 as true and genuine expositions of doctrines in the Bible.

 

ARTICLE III.  MANNER OF OPERATION

We are committed to live the Scripture which exhorts us “always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15).  therefore we affirm:

  1. Our hope is in Jesus, who abides in every Christian; we believe, teach and confess that He alone is the Savior for all mankind.
  2. Our manner of relating to Christian and non-Christian alike shall be in imitation of Jesus the Christ – forgiving one another as he has forgiven us and loving our
  3. We shall bear witness to Jesus in a manner which is bold, yet which respects the dignity of each person.
  4. Our love for Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists will not be tempered by how they receive our witness for Christ; our love for them is unconditional.

As a mission society of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, we welcome and encourage all believers in Jesus to stand with us to proclaim the Gospel to these people groups.

 

 

Droege Boys Dropped!

These kids are not survival experts.  Neither is their father.  Or Uncle.  But the Droege Boys are getting dropped!  The Droege Boys consist of North Georgia and central Texas Droegemueller boys (shortened to Droege Boys) along with their Mississipi brother from another mother.  And . . . they are getting dropped into the wilderness for a great cause with practically nothing.

The Players

The players in this survival challenge are:

  1.  Isaac Droegemueller – Age 11
  2.  Luke Droegemueller – Age 13
  3.  Tim Droegemueller – Age 45
  4.  Jay Wendland – Age 55

The Location

Image result for public domain, remote location in georgia, map

The Droege Boys are getting dropped into a remote location in North Georgia where there will be zero access to food.  Survival participants do not get to leave the allotted territory for rescue at any time.  Even if they were to run across another human being, they cannot ask for help or receive any.  If there is no water, tough!  If there is no food, tough!  There is no shelter of any kind that the Droege Boys will start with.  If they want one, they will have to make one with the raw materials they find around them.  They are completely and totally on their own in our good Lord’s rugged creation.

The Rules

Image result for public domain, referee blowing whistle

  1.  The Droege Boys must survive for 50 hours dependant only on their own limited skills to survive.
  2. Everybody has to stay.  If one person cries, whines, and decides to quit, everyone loses.
  3. Each survival participant can bring one item.  The item cannot be food.  Or drink.  Or a tent.  Or any bedding supplies.  Or a fishing pole.  Or anything that makes instant flame.  Or water purification tablets.  Or any artificial lumination like a flashlight.  Good luck and choose wisely!
  4. The Droege Boys will receive a survival kit from the kids’ oldest brother Jacob.  It will have one item for each participating Droege Boy.  It will not necessarily even be helpful.  Be kind, Jacob!  If they are smart, his little brothers will be nice to him over the next few weeks!

The Camera Crew

Jake in suit

The camera crew will consist of 15 year old Jacob.  This lucky fellow will have access to all the creature comforts of home.  He will have a stocked cooler of ice cold Gatorade, delicious snacks, and a luxurious tent.  He will be recording the DROEGE BOYS DROPPED! experience with a GO PRO camera.  The conversations between him and his destitute relatives should prove interesting.

The Purpose

Our purpose is to raise support for Stepping Stone Mission which reaches out to the homeless in Atlanta with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Stepping Stone is a Recognized Service Organization in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod that gives care, support, and love to our brothers in need in the name of Christ.  Imagine, these men know what it’s like to go without food, drink, a change of clothing or shelter as a course of regular life.  We seek to draw attention this critical need and encourage God’s Church to meet the challenge with Jesus’ mercy and His life-giving gifts.  The men in this ministry have the opportunity to participate in periodic retreats during the year where they grow in God’s Word, their understanding of God’s grace in Christ, and are trained in the foundational teachings of the Bible.  Many men go on to be baptized and confirm their faith in our Triune God.  As you can imagine, this ministry needs ongoing support because the men eventually find a job, housing, and move to a new location and church home.  This is the reason for the DROEGE BOYS DROPPED! challenge!  Below, Rev. Victor Belton baptizes two of our brothers in Christ at one of the Stepping Stone retreats.

 

Pastor Belton at Stepping STone Pic for Kairos Network black and white

How to Participate

This challenge intends to raise support for Stepping Stone and works this way.  If you want to participate, there are 3 different pledges that we are suggesting.  If you want to do something other than these suggestions, you are free in Christ to do so!

  1. A support pledge of $10
  2. A support pledge of $100
  3. A support pledge of $1000

To do this, simply write a check out to Living Faith Lutheran Church with Stepping Stone Mission in the memo line and send it to:

Attn: Jay Wendland

Living Faith Lutheran Church

1171 Atlanta Hwy

Cumming, GA 30040

If you would like to make a pledge by credit card, email Jay Wendland at droegeboycreations@gmail.com.  Arrangements are already set up and can be finalized within 24 hours.  All donations are tax deductible and you can receive a statement by simply providing your email to Jay.  We completely understand if you are not able to support the mission right now, but you can each help them by getting out this message far and wide by sharing or reposting!

The DROEGE BOYS DROPPED! event will take place July 22-24, but the results will not be made known until August 6, 2018.  If the Droege Boys are unsuccessful, no one will be held to their pledge commitment.  People will be free to do whatever they choose.  Once the DROEGE BOYS DROPPED! video is put together, you will know the results!  The results of the challenge will be on the Kairos Network website.  To get updates and results directly, sign up to FOLLOW the Kairos Network at http://www.thekairosnetwork.org.

Kairos Network Banner for Website 2 (VDMA banner 2)