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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Thanksgiving 2010
Much of this blog article is borrowed from Pastor Alvin Holmgren, Seattle, Washington, which he wrote in 1984. I have added a few Bible verses, a few comments, and even though the article is not in its original form, it yet keeps the accuracy of his message.

KJV Philippians 3:20 For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

KJV 1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving. ~H.U. Westermayer

(by Pastor Alvin Holmgren)

"The ravages of winter took a heavy toll on the newly-formed pilgrim colony in New England. The first winter was severe and they were ill-prepared for it. The long ocean voyage of more than two months had been taxing. Some of their number died enroute, and the lack of proper diet had weakened many others. It had been the middle of November 1620 when land was sighted at the tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. After exploring the coast along Massachusetts bay, the Pilgrims chose Plymouth as their site for their colony. By the time the Mayflower dropped anchor in the harbor at Plymouth, it was December. By the end of March their number of 102 had been reduced to only 51, and almost half of them were children.

Only 20 men and 8 women had lived through that dreadful winter. In spite of the rigors of this first winter in the new land, not one of the remaining pilgrims chose to return to England when the Mayflower sailed again for England in early April. Before long, their leader Governor John Carver also died. The pilgrims elected William Bradford as governor. Although he was only 31 years old, Governor Bradford proved to be a good leader and was elected governor 30 times.

Even though some of the natives were as inhospitable as the first winter, in time the pilgrims developed a friendship with them. When the harvest was over that year, for the first time since they came to America, the pilgrims had all the food they needed. They had ample wood cut for their fires, and their house were readied for winter.

Governor Bradford declared it was time for "thanksgiving," A feast was prepared and the Indian friends were invited to join the pilgrims for this festive occasion. God was to be thanked for sparing their lives, for their freedom in this new land, for the abundance of the harvest, and for their Indian friends. As so began our day of national thanksgiving.

We, today, can learn anew from the pilgrim forefathers. They knew that their very lives depended upon the blessing of the Almighty God, and they were not forgetful in acknowledging this. Our nation and its people have traveled far from this first "Thanksgiving Day" in 1621.

But have we traveled in the right direction? Have we, as a people, been mindful of this early example?

It is important that we as Christians walk the pathway of thankfulness. God is good and sends countless blessings upon the earth. Jesus explained the goodness of God by that our Father in heaven makes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust

KJV Matthew 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

May we not be forgetful to return thanks to God, who is the source of our many blessings. We need to be grateful for this good land in which we live, and also to share in the responsibility to pray for kings and for all that are in authority.

KJV 1 Timothy 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; KJV 1 Timothy 2:2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

Our national heritage is a great blessing, but it is second in importance in comparison with our Christian heritage. Harvest was the time of the pilgrims' thanksgiving. We join in thanking God for his promise that while the earth remains, seedtime and harvest will not cease.

KJV Genesis 8:22 While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

(Genesis 8:22) But we also look to a greater harvest--the harvest of souls. This harvest is the primary purpose for living and should be the goal of our lives.

KJV Matthew 9:37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;
KJV Matthew 9:38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

Today we are still surrounded by a cloud of witnesses of which we read in the book of Hebrews, chapters 11 and 12:

29 By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as if on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned.
30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.
31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.
32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets-
33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.
35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life.
36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.
37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two,1 they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated-
38 of whom the world was not worthy- wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised,
40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

ESV Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

They have passed this way before us. We are urged to remember them, for they have spoken to us, the Word of God, and we are encouraged to follow their faith, mindful of the end of their lives.

KJV Hebrews 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. Original: Remember those who have led you, who have taught you the Word of God, observe, reflect upon the results of their lives and imitate their example of faith."

"Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today and forever. By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise unto God continually, that it, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name. (Hebrews 13:8, 15)

Pastor Alvin C. Holmgren (He served the Seattle, Washington Apostolic Lutheran Church for over 50 years and is now retired from the ministry)
Reprinted from 1984
Posted on 17 Nov 2010 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Left Behind 11/06/10
God's Peace to you!

Recently on a trip out to the West Coast a person shared with me that often times when one is called by the Lord to serve Him, that often times not much is said about those who are left behind. This comment came in relation to the call of James and John, the sons of Zebedee who also are referred to as the Sons of Thunder. Those two sons, like us, had to gain a better understanding of who Jesus was and why He came, and coming to that understanding, they came to understand the true nature of the kingdom of God. It was not a kingdom that is intended to separate and divide people, but one into which people would be gathered into the family of God.

KJV Matthew 4:21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.
KJV Matthew 4:22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.

Very little detail is given of those who are 'left behind", but from other places in the Scripture and through experience we know that even though they may be less visible as far as the Body of Christ is concerned, nevertheless they remain an important and equal part of the Body of Christ. The father of James and John had raised his sons and now as they left their earthly father to serve their greater Father, the discipling was going to continue, but directly from being in the presence of Jesus. Our work as parents never ceases, but it does change in respect to our releasing them as our children so that they may cleave to their Lord and Saviour Jesus in order to become one with Him through grace and truth. We have our families on this earth, but what a blessing it is in our hearts and lives when we come to the place in which we are able to see and experience the oneness in the greater family of God. In that family there is no hierarchy or levels of importance, for we all are at the same level of the need of His grace and we live and serve in the thankfulness of that same grace through our Lord Jesus Christ. "But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ" (Eph 4:7)

What I have written could be illustrated by a recent happening that occurred while I was visiting an elderly woman of our congregation, one in whom the Lord has placed a heart of prayer for others. She had previously told me that she prays for Jay on a regular basis. As we were talking, she asked me about Jay and how it was going in China. I shared with her of some of the recent things that Jay had shared and then she asked me if Jay had told me about the cross she had given him. I said, no, he had not said anything. She went on to tell me that she had given him a cross to carry in his pocket so that everytime he put his hand in his pocket and felt the cross that he would remember that Jesus is always with him.

Wow! That is the Body of Christ in action, unseen, but active in places that we are not even aware of. He is the Head of the Body, He is the Vine and we are the branches. It all works together even though it may not always be so apparent, but we can be assured that the Body will always work for its benefit and not against itself.

So those who are "left behind" are just as important and needed as any of those who are in the forefront of the mission. May we appreciate even more those who are quietly, persistently and joyfully raising/influencing their children/grandchildren in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, as Zebedee did with his two sons, James and John. His direct influnce on his two sons' future would not be as great as it had been in the childhood years, but he for sure continued to pray for them as He expectantly watched them grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ through being in His Presence. May we who are "left behind" continue to pray for our children/grandchildren, both those in our natural family as well those as in our spiritual family, so that together and corporately we would grow into the holy temple as unto the Lord:

Ephesians 2:21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Bound Together in His Love,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 06 Nov 2010 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Thanksgiving 2010
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Carol Fischer and her family as they grieve the loss of Bob