This week……

ENCOURAGEMENT CARDS!
These are the moo cards (printed my a company called moo)  I wrote for encouraging volunteers. I have the best job. I just wrote a note of appreciation and included the red moo card. I love expressing big sloppy love and admiration for those who use their giftedness to serve others.
We had a new member class this weekend and I am reminded every time I get to talk about my life’s calling to help others connect with their life’s calling and find a fit for a volunteer that uses their unique giftedness because that is where there will be incredible fulfillment and fruitfulness…..that I love what I do and God placed me in this ministry to do exactly what I am doing!
Photo: These are the moo cards i wrote for encouraging volunteers. I have the best job. I just wrote a note of appreciation and included the red moo card. I love expressing big sloppy love and admiration for those who use their giftedness to serve others.

SERVING THOSE WHO SERVE!  WHAT A PRIVILEGE.

Pre dawn trip to airport. Good friend and young son are traveling half way around the world to spend precious few leave days w deployed wife. Pray for their safety and sweet reunion. I am so touched by the sacrifices military families make in service to country.

TRAINING OF MISSIONARIES AND PASTORS SOUTH OF THE BORDER

Crossing back across the border after a planning meeting. Blessed by being with people who are excited about being the SENT CHURCH! Our Tijuana ministry “Building Generations” is delighted to host the workshop this Saturday with author, Rev. Dr. Robert Scudieri. He will talk about his book, “La Iglesia Enviada”(CPH). I have always loved this photo (about 5 years old or more) …. with the Book of Concord (Libro de Concordia) and The Sent Church (La Iglesia Enviada) and Law and Gospel (Ley y Evangelio) before these pastors as they study, dialogue and pray.

Photo: Crossing back across the border after a planning meeting. Blessed by being with people who are excited about being the SENT CHURCH! Our Tijuana ministry "Building Generations" is delighted to host the workshop this Saturday with author, Rev. Dr. Robert Scudieri. He will talk about his book, "La Iglesia Enviada"(CPH). I have always loved this photo (about 5 years old or more) .... with the Book of Concord (Libro de Concordia) and The Sent Church (La Iglesia Enviada) and Law and Gospel (Ley y Evangelio) before these pastors as they study, dialogue and pray.

 

EASTER IS COMING!

We are gearing up for the EASTER. Teams for the Easter EGGstravaganza have already been planning for weeks!  We watched a webinar today that encouraged us to help our people focus on developing the eyes (and praying) for those we can invite, invite, invite, invite, invite for EASTER. Did I saw its all about inviting?  I have already experienced some shall we say extended days working on Easter and I have a feeling the 10 and 12 hour days are coming up until Easter.  It is the next great opportunity Concordia will have to impact the lives of people for Jesus. I am excited.

I know you will want to get involved with an Easter team.  It will be a blessing!

Blessings friends…..Melissa

 

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Thanks Pastor Shockey……

A pastor from Minnesota came to visit Concordia and was intrigued by the FAM JAM concept.  He then came back with his team to study it further.  He has now begun a FAM JAM service in his parish with blessing and success! How great is that!  Pastor Shockey shared an email written by his wife sharing some of the exciting things God is doing through their FAM JAM worship.

 I think it’s pretty cool! First thing I learned is that Mark began a new member on Thursday evening (last night) with two school families that have connected to St. Peter’s because of attending FAMJAM! One dad has never really had any connection with a church before, but felt a newfound curiosity about Jesus because of the FAMJAM! style of worship. Isn’t that awesome?! For years we’ve been scratching our heads about how to share the great news of our Savior Jesus with the different adults walking through our doors on a daily basis. The kids get it!! That’s never been the problem! Now the Spirit is working through us so that the parents can get it too!! See? Isn’t that pretty cool??

I don’t know about you, but that gives me goosebumps!  I love seeing God at work.

Pastor Shockey has now nominated Concordia (because of our FAM JAM worship format)  for the Guido Merkens award at the upcoming Best Practices in Ministry Conference coming up in February for “entrepeneurial, energetic and breakthrough ideas in ministry.”   These are his words to the nominating committee about Concordia:

I’ve got a nomination!

Concordia Church in Chula Vista, CA has an awesome family worship service for families with young children.  It is called FAM JAM.  It is not just worship for families, but an interactive, fast paced, Biblical experience that is fresh each week.  Children participate in a hands on way throughout the service, but the content is full of depth for adults as well.  I think I remember them saying they had 75 baptisms directly attributable to Fam Jam during the last 2 years since it started.  It is an awesome way that they are reaching their community and meeting a need.  A team puts it together every week led by Pastor Richard Schmidt.

I’ve been there twice to learn more.  Great stuff.

Here is the website and a description from the website:  This worship service is designed for parents and children to learn about God together. It’s noisy…by design. People of all ages participate … by design. It’s something like you probably haven’t experienced before. We believe that we begin a conversation about God’s eternal truths that families talk about throughout the week and find ways to live out in the context of everyday life. You will see people serving from ages 5 to 95 and every place in between because we treasure the gifts God has given the church in every season.

His number was off a little because we have had only 50 baptisms over the last 2 1/2 years and not 75.  But Pastor Schmidt was saying that 50 baptisms over the span of a couple of years is what churches of about 2,000 typically run!

It is not only an honor to be considered for this award by our brothers and sisters in ministry gathered at this conference, but it is an encouragement to our volunteer teams for all the creative work they do as we serve the big mission God has given Concordia.

It is so fun to be a part of this ministry.

Oh….and thanks Pastor Shockey for not only being a friend of Concordia, but also for being a raving fan!  We love you and pray for the great blessing of many through the ministry of St. Peters church!

Serving along the border

Tere and I had the opportunity to serve as the SECOND Lutheran Bible Institute begins its work in San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora Mexico.  We traveled there (some 5 hours of driving east and south each way).  We met up with Rev. Ramon Contreras director of LBCM and Rev. Carl Lutz who was serving as professor for the Old Testament class these students will first tackle.  

We have worked together for many years and Pastor Lutz and I already have the experience at doing the simultaneous translation in a way that is easy for the students to hear.  I learn so much from being with him…..mainly because on our drive times, I have the opportunity to ask him the boldest questions I want!  His vast knowledge of God’s Word is such a blessing…coupled with his experience and missionary heart, always shares such wisdom and learning with those who are willing to ask and listen.

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We arrived for worship and that was such a delightful experience.  I loved seeing how people are moved by the liturgy, the reading and studying of God’s Word and especially as they participated in the Lord’s Supper.  At this congregation they all went forward.  I was a bit unsure and waited back seeing that the communion rail was full…..but people from behind me just rushed forward.  Pastor had to step over two children who were crawling around the altar.  People were visibly moved as they approached the table of the Lord.  I was struck by how this rush to be with the Lord was as it should be.  I was struck at how orderly and formal and regimented sometimes we are in the United States.  This was so organic and urgent.  It was beautiful.

Later we shared a meal together …. Pozole …. a soup with hominy and chicken.  I loved seeing the work of the children taped on the wall. Again, how unlikely would we see things just taped on the wall in the United States (our walls might be marred). I loved seeing the word of the children….as they copied the Apostles Creed and the Lord’s Prayer and the Psalms.  Interesting how the simple exercise of copying God’s Word was the whole experience of education for children….even young children.  Beautiful.  

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There were 12 students eager and willing to learn and serve God and His people.  There were another 10 students who because of the harvest time were not able to attend. There is talk about another class for that group.  

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Pastor Lutz traveled with us on the ride home and we had a delightful time asking him questions and gleaning from his many years of pastoral ministry many useful and practical lessons that we will share with others. It was a long day but we returned home not only deeply satisfied but grateful for having been used for  great purpose on this trip.  

Thank you friends for praying for these students, Pastor Contreras and Pastor Lutz and for future opportunities to help others learn the big truths of God. It was indeed a great day.

—MelissaImage

Serving to build the Kingdom….

I am so glad Concordia is a congregation that has a BIG desire to serve the BIG goals of God around the world.  It has been a blessing to me to serve with a ministry that seeks to build generations for God.  With the http://www.edificandogeneraciones.com ministry we have had such opportunities.

This weekend we were privileged to be part of the inaugural class of the SECOND Bible Institute along the border.  This one was opened in San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora Mexico which is south of Yuma, Arizona.

Tere and I traveled in the wee hours of Sunday morning to make the 5 hour trip East and South.  There we met with Rev. Ramon Contreras, Director of LBCM ministry and Rev. Carl Lutz missionary/bible scholar who serves as professor of both New Testment and Old Testament.   It was my pleasure to serve as translator for Pastor Lutz.  He is such a dedicated servant and student of God’s Word that where there is an opportunity to serve he always says yes, “as long as the Lord allows.”  We are grateful for the Lord keeping him going strong as he approaches his 80 years and probably some 60 years in the ministry.  Please thank God with me for the life and service of this man who is preparing men and women for greater service to the Lord in the places God has asked them to serve.  Once again, we met wonderfully dedicated men and women who are excited about learning more about God and His Word.

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Faith…. in 2013.

I am praying for my faith to grow this year.  Actually, I pray this every day.  This plea to God is helpful.  It is also helpful to have some tools to help you focus on spending time with the Giver of this gift of faith.

Conventional wisdom says that you should not try to do too much when attempting a lasting change in your life.  Probably true but for me, I am inspired with trying a few new things that are encouraging me in focusing on God and what He wants me to experience, do and become this 2013.

1.  I have enjoyed using the YouVersion Bible app on my phone for some time now.  This year, I am following a bible reading plan. This is a new one added this year and it’s call “Soul Detox “.  It is a five week plan.  I have enjoyed it.  I have the settings to remind me daily but really it is pretty easy to do this first off in the morning.  Here is a glimpse of it.

Soul Detox

                                Day 5 of 35

                                                Romans 12:1-21                                                                                                        MSG

1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
3 I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.

2.  I read this tip somewhere and tried it and have liked it.  I take a screen shot of a portion of God’s Word that has come up in either the daily verse on the Youversion app or in my Yourversion bible reading plan.  This way you see it several times a day when you check your phone.  You don’t realize how often you check your phone until you do something like this!

scripture

3.  Finally, I have resolved to include more meditation time into my life.  This is an opportunity to REFLECT on what God is telling me, showing me, asking of me.  I am doing this by incorporating more walking time into my daily routine.  There are wonderful walking trails near my house …. or especially lovely have been my trips to the bay to walk along the water.  There are great gifts that come with solitude (and the sea) for thinking and prayer time.  I have loved this.

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These are strategies and tools that are helping me focus on God and His purposes in my life…..that is a sure way to experience growing faith in your life.  If you try one of these tips, let me know how it goes in the “comments” section below.  I will pray for you!

Happy New Year — “Surrender” my little word this year

For the last few years I have been inspired by Ali Edwards to choose one little word at the beginning of the year to be a focus for the year. Rather than a list of resolutions, just choose a focus word.  Sometimes I have chosen a word and sometimes a word has chosen me.   Through the years my word has been gratitude, grow, intention(Living with Intention)…and last year, my word was order. So much was in transition I felt the need to focus on a little bit of order each day.  This year is an example of a word choosing me and it seems to go in the opposite direction of my word “order” of last year.  My word for 2013 is “surrender”.  I want this year to focus on surrendering to God and what He wants me to experience, do and become.  I am excited about this season in life. Because I want to be about greater things this year, I need to surrender and be especially attuned to where God is leading.  I am excited about where my journey with God in 2013 will take me.

The kids and my mom and I got to talk about what were the greatest blessings on 2012 and where we want to focus in 2013.  I think this will be a new tradition for us.  I loved it.

I am so grateful that both Andres and Elizabeth finished their degrees this year and that both are working where it could be said they are following their passion. Nothing better for a mother’s soul to witness.  I am so grateful.

Another beautiful thing was getting the youtube link of Andres’ worship concert.  I didn’t think we could put it up in its entirety but we were able to do this (thanks to the great work of Soren and Kurt) I got to see the concert again today and remember what an amazing evening it was.