Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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Remembering 5/25/2014
James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creation.

2 Peter 1: 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.
11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.
13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder,

Tomorrow is Memorial Day and a day which is set aside for the remembering and honoring of those who have passed on before us. Originally called Decoration Day, it is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. Over two dozen cities and towns claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it’s difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day.
Regardless of the exact date or location of its origins, one thing is clear Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War and a desire to honor our dead. It was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed. The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.

On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.

The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war).

It is now celebrated in almost every state on the last Monday in May with Congressional passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 363). This helped ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays, though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19th in Texas; April 26th in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10th in South Carolina; and June 3rd (Jefferson Davis’ birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.

We honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom by serving in the Armed Forces so that we could continue to live in this freedom on our United States of America. May their examples move us to appreciation for their service, may their examples inspire us to serve sacrificially today in whatever area that we may find opportunity to serve our neighbor.

In our two Scripture texts is revealed source of Spiritual Freedom, the empowerment of Spiritual Fruitfulness and the practice of the True Fruitfulness that is the result of the coming of God in Christ Jesus to this world. He came so that we might be set free from the tyranny and slavery of the Deceiver and from his bondage/slavery. He came that we might be freed from bondage to self and so that we could be empowered to serve others by love.

There are two dimensions of freedom, the physical and the spiritual. We have already referred to the physical freedom and alluded to the spiritual freedom. Jesus addressed the spiritual freedom also:

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, ‘If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’”John 8:31-32

We all value our political and physical freedom, but we realize that the liberty which we have received through the merits of Jesus is superior to all other freedoms, for it is a freedom which is guaranteed. There will never have to be another battle in which to win this freedom.

“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.” Ephesians 1:13

It is possible for a person to live in the freedom of the political nature, but to be a slave to sin. It is also possible for one to live under a totalitarian type of government, but as a free child of God, in the grace of our Lord Jesus through faith.

Therefore, in order to maintain this spiritual freedom, it is important to remember that in our spiritual relationship with Jesus we must continue to abide in His word, which gives unto us direction.

Even though Memorial Day is founded and grounded in military history, it has evolved to a day when we all remember our departed loved ones, whether they were in the military or not. This week my wife and I are in New Hampshire where we attended the funeral of her sister, Karen Aho of New Ipswich NH. It was an amazing time of reflection on a life that was lived for the benefit of others, which was evidenced by the presence and words of many of those to whom Karen ministered in her life her on this earth. A life that was not her own, but a life that reflected and demonstrated the life of Jesus Christ who gave Himself for her, for us, for you. Perhaps you could get a feel for her life through the words that were written by her sister, my wife, after the funeral and burial were done this past Friday.

"The day is done.....quietness is around me.....pondering on the day. My sweet sister's body has been laid to rest. I had times of weeping, times of laughter in memories, times of praise to our Heavenly Father for His glory( which Gabe reminded us that it isn't just the light of God but His nature of love, grace, mercy etc.), times of seeing how God blesses us through the many gifts He has given His children ( guitar, keyboard, and bagpipe music, singing, speaking, meals, gracious hearts reaching out to the sad hearts, umbrellas being handed out to shield us from the rain drops at the cemetery). I found myself thinking and feeling like we were getting a hint of heaven as we were surrounded by so much love. This has been so hard....but now I want to thank each of you who sent love and prayers our way during this time. God bless you for your caring messages and hugs. It meant more than I can express in words. I will miss my sister....I learned so much from her. Good night." (Beth Wirkkala)

1 Thess 4:13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.
14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.
16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

May the Lord give us His peace and comfort today as we miss our loved ones who left this life earlier that any of us wanted them to. May the pain of their being absent from the body be soothed with the assurance that being absent from the body means that they are now present with the Lord. We understand that it is somewhat natural that our parents have died before us, and even our spouses, but it is quite unnatural when children pass away before their parents. So, for those of you who have lost your offspring, may the gentle grace of our Lord Jesus Christ minister comfort and peace to you today as you remember your dear loved one.

Remembering with you today,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 25 May 2014 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
The Powerless Death 5/18/2014
John 11:20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.
21 Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.
23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.

Dear friend,

May the grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be with you now and always, Amen.
Recently at one of the many funerals that I have been at lately, I sat by a man who in his life has lost to death his first wife, his second wife, his closest in relationship sister and his only two children. He shared with me as to how within the last two years he has "gotten tired" and no longer has much zest for life. As I listened to him share his thoughts with me, thinking about how he said that many of those deaths occurred in one year and that it took five years before he stopped crying, I could only cry inside to the One who knows all things and understands all the pain that we as humans go through in this life. It was not difficult for me to understand why he could say what he said about losing his "zest" for life.

The friends of Jesus, Mary and Martha, experienced the pain of separation in their life with the death of their brother Lazarus, not yet understanding that the resurrection from the dead was standing before them in Jesus the Christ. They understood that they would see their brother in the final resurrection from the dead, but they were not able to understand that Jesus was telling them that their brother is only sleeping and that he is not separated from them forever. He wanted them to know that they are united forever with their brother in the present through Himself and that it is only for a little while before they will be able to say "Good Morning" after they say this good night at his grave side. They need not sorrow as those without hope....

In order to encourage them as well as to point them to Himself, Jesus then raised Lazarus from the dead which was demonstrating to all of what would occur on Easter morning: After being in a grave as Lazarus was, Jesus would arise also from the dead, demonstrating the truth of what He told Mary and Martha that He was the Resurrection and the Life!

How is it with us? Do we live in the victory and the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ? How old do we have to be before we are able to understand what this means? How old were we when we began to understand these things as God revealed them to us through our parents, our friends, our Sunday School teachers and so on? How old were we before we began to understand that God was good, that He loved us and that He has received us through His Son Jesus? How has that gone for you, for me? Thinking about these questions, let us consider recent happenings which occurred, yes, at recent funerals.

First of all, I go back to my dear brother Phil Johnson who died about a month ago and of how he told me that when children hear about Jesus dying for their sins, they believe it. They hear it, they believe it and they know that they are on the way to heaven. The example below testifies to what he stated....

A five year old cousin, Skyler Impola, was killed while trying to climb into a piece of equipment when the bucket which was up in the air came down and crushed his little body. The minister began his funeral sermon with these words: "After Skyler's father called me to tell me what had happened, I hurried over to his farm. When I came to the site where the accident had happened, I was met by two little boys, Skyler's cousins, who came running up to me and shouted to me: "Skyler's in heaven!"

And then just last week I attended the funeral of 90 year old Lauri Lappi in Negaunee, MI since his son and I are good friends and since Lauri used to visit my job sites in the west while I was still logging. A story was told of Lauri and of his first memory at the funeral. It went like this:

"I had a knife that I had found when I was five years old and when my sister saw me playing with it, she tried to take it away from me, I did not let her. Finally she got so persistent that she grabbed ahold of the sharp blade of the knife with her hand and I pulled it away from her, cutting her hand deeply in the process. As a result of seeing what I had done, I ran and hid in the woods and did not want to go into my home and face my dad. I struggled for a long time outside, it began to get dark and finally figured that I must go to my father and face up to him. I remember climbing up on to the porch, I remember opening the door, I remember seeing my dad's big boots and as I raised my eyes to his face expecting to see an angry father glaring at me. But.... instead I saw a merciful and kind face looking down at me, felt his big arms wrap around me and heard him telling me, "It's okay, son. It's okay................... "

It was 85 years later that my brother in Christ entered onto the porch of heaven, the door was opened and he looked up to see the same kind and merciful face that He had seen 85 years before.

May our thoughts be blessed as we reminiesce of the revelation of Jesus Christ into our lives as we allow our thoughts to center on the goodness of God that came from those who loved us and nourished us in our youth. May those experiences which did not reveal the loving heart of a merciful and kind Father be lost in the sea of forgetfulness so that they would not crowd out all the revelations of goodness and kindness that He has poured out into our lives in our past.

It is so easy and it seems so natural to live today as a result of the past experiences which have caused us not to see the goodness of God, but rather to reject Him or to accuse Him of bringing bad. May through all the confusion and hurt that we may have experienced we be able to see the goodness of God being extended to us through those who love us and care for us.

He is the Resurrection and the Life and believing in Him, our bodies will die, but our souls lives on, for we are in Him forever........

May His grace be upon us today.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 18 May 2014 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Remembering 5/25/2014
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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The Lawry Kilpela family as they grieve but yet rejoice in Lawry's being called home.