Matins at the Mission House

For anyone who seeks to gather for prayer, the order of Matins will be held at the All Nations Mission House on Wednesdays at 9:15 AM followed by a Bible study at 10 AM.

The address is 4320 E. Ponce de Leon Ave in Clarkston, Georgia.

“Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” Psalm 127:1

From Bishop Serge Maschewski of Ukraine

Dear friends,

I send some thoughts on Lent from Ukraine.

The Word for the week Estomihi, 2022: Luke 18:31–43

“And taking the twelve, he said to them, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.’ But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.

“As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. They told him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.’ And he cried out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ He said, ‘Lord, let me recover my sight.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.’ And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.”

Very soon, on this coming Wednesday, the Church enters into Lent. A time of repentance and prayer, of teaching and self-examination.

Our local ELC entered the Lenten season a little earlier this year. Ukraine is on fire. Trouble has come to our land. On February 24, war broke out. Terrible, horrible, despicable. Automatic rifles shooting, bombing with grenades, bombing with missiles, sirens, curfews—all of this has become our reality.

The dead, the wounded, the tens of thousands of refugees—a terrible reality.

And now, we hear the Lord’s words to His disciples with special clarity and in a whole new way: “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.” 

The Lord knew what awaited Him in Jerusalem. He knew He would be betrayed to the Gentiles, that He would be mocked, He would be insulted, humiliated, spat upon, crowned with thorns on His forehead, and killed. He knew about the Cross of Calvary. Jesus’ heart was filled with fear. But He still goes to Jerusalem. Going to offer Himself as the Sacrifice of Atonement for the sins of the world. Going to bring peace to men.

Now we, in the Holy Spirit, follow with Jesus the way of His suffering and death. The apostles could not imagine what the words meant: “betrayed, abused, insulted, spat upon, beaten and killed” …

Why does this have to happen? What does it mean? Isn’t there a way to avoid it? Why is God willing to suffer such a fiasco?

The disciples did not understand. Their hopes for the future were crumbling. Fear settled in their hearts, just as our hearts are now.

A war has broken out … And we do not understand God’s ways. Why? Why? How did God allow this to happen? We go through fear, panic, frustration. Why did this happen to us? Why? Kharkiv, Kyiv, Kherson … Why?

It took the apostles some time to grasp the meaning of what Jesus had said and done.

The Spirit of God had to illumine their minds and hearts. And then they began to preach: This was the only possible way for us to be saved.

At some time, it will also become clear to us why God leads us in such a strange way, and we will testify: “God’s way is for good.”

We have no illusions … Our Church has experienced persecution and pursuit from the state before. We know and remember how, on the orders of the German Embassy, the Ukrainian government services destroyed our congregations. We know the hypocrisy, deceitfulness, and meanness of our state officials … But we clearly distinguish the current government from our people, our country. And now the aggression is committed not against the authorities of Ukraine, but against her people. And we, the Church, with our children, with our brothers and sisters, are on guard and ready to defend our homeland to the last drop of blood.

Are we afraid? Yes.

Do we retreat? No!

And we believe that God keeps and protects us.

And it is no coincidence that in our Gospel passage we encounter two such different stories: Christ’s prediction of His suffering and death and the healing of a sick man! The blind man teaches us to see. He hears Jesus of Nazareth passing by. And cries out, shouts even: “Jesus, Son of David! Have mercy on me!”

The disciples silence him; but he cries even louder: “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Christ is at the center of his life: “Jesus, Son of David! Have mercy on me!”The Lord asks: “What do you want from me?” He said: “Lord, that I may see.”

Jesus said to him, “See! YOUR FAITH HAS SAVED YOU!”

And he immediately received his sight and followed him, praising God. This is how the blind, sick man meets the God who has mercy and heals. A God who does not pass by but hears the cry for help.

God, Who, in suffering Himself, hastens to show mercy to those who cry out to HIM. Our crucified Lord is no stranger to our pain, our need, our despair, our fear, our weakness.

Our crucified God overcame death and overcame hopelessness. He did all this for us. He walked this road to become the One who can save, the One who can help. In any situation, at any time.

He gives us a blessing and a future. He rewards us with a full life. And we believe that the Lord will help us in our struggle, the Lord will not leave us, but will overcome everything with us. Therefore, fear goes away, and we look boldly into the present and with hope into the future.

And blindness goes away … The ELCU (Evangelical Lutheran Church Ukraine) is active in volunteer and diaconal work, in the defense of our cities, and in the spiritual care of those in need.

We meet God in the Sacrament. And in it, Christ heals us.

We meet God in the prayer of our brothers and sisters. In the help and care of our Church.

I want to give special thanks to the faithful of the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, and personally to President Rev. Dr. Mathew Harrison and Pastor James Krikawa (works at the IC – LCMS, International Center in St. Louis). God bless you!

We, by the power of God, will overcome all things, and the Lord will grant us victory!

Isaiah 58:8  Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,

                       and your healing shall spring up speedily;

                      your righteousness shall go before you;

                       the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.

Thank you all for your help and prayers!

In Christo, Serge

Droege Boys Dropped (2020 Edition)!

These kids are not survival experts.  Neither is their father.  Or Uncle.  But the Droege Boys are getting dropped for a second time!  The players consist of North Georgia Droegemueller boys (shortened to Droege Boys) along with their Mississippi brother from another mother.  Ok. Yes, there are girls involved too. Really cool and tough girls. These girls are cool and tough enough that they willingly support the crazy stuff these boys want to do. And what are these boys going to be doing exactly? They are about to get dropped into the wilderness with practically nothing. But it is for a great cause.

Man, this kid looks tough. If you see him in a dark alley, run. He is presently training to make the cut next year.

Just to get this out to you up front. We are not interested in complaining about all the problems in the world or ignoring them. We are looking for ways to put our Lutheran faith into action. We believe in the pure truth of the Holy Bible. We believe the Gospel of our Savior Who died for us and conquered death. We believe in God’s miracle-working Word in Baptism. We believe Jesus forgives sins. We believe in a Savior Who shows up for His Church with His own Body and Blood in Holy Communion. And so, it is very easy for sinners like us, who have been saved by such obvious grace, to get into fields and the trenches with the hope we have in Christ. So . . . welcome to Droege Boys Dropped 2020!!!! Are you ready to be introduced to the people crazy enough to want to do this?

The Players

The players in this survival challenge are:

  1.  Isaac Droegemueller – Age 13
  2.  Luke Droegemueller – Age 15
  3.  Tim Droegemueller – Age 47
  4.  Jay Wendland – Age 56 (This guy on the right looks really professional compared to these other slackers)

The Location

The Droege Boys are getting dropped into a remote location in North Georgia that is presently only known by two people. These two people, Pat and Gail Deluca, will be leading the boys into this location blindfolded. Since this is a Thrivent sponsored event and Pat is a rockstar Thrivent agent, they are certainly the perfect people to help. Once the Droege Boys finally arrive at the chosen starting point, the challenge will begin.  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.  Like wood from a tree. Or stones from the ground. They are completely and totally on their own in our good Lord’s rugged creation.

The Rules

  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 two bonus items. One will be chosen by the Delucas. The other item will be chosen by oldest brother Jacob. It will not necessarily even be helpful, but we pray that it will be usable.  Be kind, Jacob!  If they are smart, his little brothers will be nice to him over the next couple of weeks! We are not entirely sure that is happening presently…

The Camera Crew

The camera crew will consist of 17 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 beverages, delicious snacks, and a luxurious tent.  He will be recording the DROEGE BOYS DROPPED! experience with various recording equipment.  The conversations between him and his destitute relatives will prove interesting.

The Purpose

Our purpose is to raise support for All Nations Lutheran Church which reaches out to the immigrant families in Clarkston with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  All Nations is a new church start working in partnership with the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.

Pastor and Mrs. Chang Soo Kim

Through the ministry of Pastor Chang Soo Kim who was called home to heaven earlier this year, All Nations Society of Atlanta, Grace Lutheran in Midtown, St. Mark in Tucker, and Living Faith in Cumming, many people have been reached through Bible studies, catechism training, compassionate care, and food distribution. Pastor Kim, who is shown above with his wife Hyang, has certainly been one of our North Georgia Lutheran heroes. By supporting this ministry, All Nations Lutheran can find rental space to set up the church in the middle of the community. The central missionary that will be spearheading this ministry will be Vicar Isaac Baroi. As a joyful servant of our Lord who speaks more than ten languages, he is certainly the perfect person to help the people in the Clarkston community. He cannot wait to begin preaching the Gospel and reaching out with the mercy of Christ. Vicar Baroi will be ordained through Concordia Seminary St. Louis in spring of 2021.

Vicar Isaac Baroi

How to Participate

This challenge intends to raise support for All Nations Lutheran Church and it works this way.  If you want to participate, there are 4 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
  4. A support pledge of $10,000

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

Attn: Andrew Frerking

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 30-August 1, but the results will not be made known until August 10, 2020.  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. Thanks! Glory to God and salvation to man!

Kairos Network Banner for Website 2 (VDMA banner 2)

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.

April 14 Arrives Soon!

Trinity Lutheran Church has its first service in Norcross, Georgia on Palm Sunday, April 14!  All is set and ready for the preaching of the unmerited grace of God in Jesus Christ, our crucified and risen Lord!  This is a new place at a new altar where people can gather and receive the eternal treasures of the Triune God!  This is a place where our Lord will snap the idolatrous chains of Satan that keep people trapped in spiritual death (Ephesian 2:1-10).   This will be a place where burden and guilt will be lifted off the shoulders of troubled souls by the forgiveness of sins in our loving Savior, Jesus (John 20:20-23).  We give God thanks for the mission heart and support from the Atlanta North Circuit for the purchase of the new hymnals and catechisms.  We also thank our Lord for our Florida-Georgia District who have given a generous gift to cover the cost of rent at Norcross Elementary School for 6 months.  It is time.  If we continue to wait until our weak sinful natures are ready enough to engage in the Great Commission, we will never move.  But our Lord Jesus Christ says “Go (Matthew 28:18-19)!” We trust the power of the Word of God to bring all the results.  We trust the Holy Spirit Who brings new life when and where He wills (John 3:3-7).    “Behold, now is the favorable time (kairos); behold now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2)!”

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

The schedule for the day will be:

  • The Divine Service at 9 AM with Dr. Victor Belton preaching (pictured above left).
  • Bible Study for all ages at 10 AM.
  • The Divine Service in Korean at 11 AM with Rev. Min Soo Kim preaching (pictured below with his family).
  • Bible Study for all ages in Korean at Noon.
  • Food and Fellowship for all at 1 PM.

IMG_8912 (1)

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;

Praise Him, all creatures here below;

Praise Him above, ye heavenly host:

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  Amen!

~Thomas Ken