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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Pastor's Blog

Community, Participation, Gathering 1/11/2014
Dear friend,

In 1896, Finnish Christians met in Kingston to establish a church that would follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. Here is an excerpt from the minutes of the meeting:

We met on February 10, 1896, at 10:00 a.m. to organize a church to the laws of God.

The following constitution was adopted: The Finnish Sunday School Society of Kingston, Minnesota, acknowledges the Bible, the Old and New Testaments, as the only true and sufficient and infallible doctrine and standard for Christian faith, teachings, life conduct, and activity. No person shall be received into the church who does not believe in being born again and the remission of sins.

The Finnish Sunday School Society of Kingston, Minnesota, shall for a time remain independent and shall not unite with any other sect or denomination, but remain free according to Galatians 5:1 The property of the Finnish Sunday School Society of Kingston shall be managed by its trustees and shall be common property for all its members who have been formally received into the church and are acknowledged as voters. The meeting house of the church shall be opened for such purpose as the trustees shall direct. The meeting was adjourned at 11:00 a.m., February 10, 1896.

Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Two years after the church was organized, its name was changed to the The Kingston Finnish Apostolic Lutheran Congregation. In 1987 it was changed to The Apostolic Lutheran Church of Kingston.

A few years ago when after we had transitioned from the old church building to the one which we are presently in, there was discusson about what to do with the old building as it was falling into desrepair and would soon become a potential liability for our congregation. Both before and after the building was razed by fire, there was discussion as to the nature of what a church is with the main two questions being: Does a church consist of the building itself, or is it the people who gather in the church building?

The Scripture supports the latter, for it is recorded in Ephesians 2:19-22: Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

In our day when the word church often times designates a gathering place, it perhaps would be helpful to refer to our congregation as a community of believers, or a communion of saints. As we noted last time, the Apostle Paul with joy prayed for the community of believers in Philippi, namely thanking them for their participation in the work of spreading the Gospel, the Good News of the forgiveness of sins through Christ Jesus.

In today's message (Sunday's) we are going to see the how Apostle Paul had one goal in mind in his ministry, regardless of his circumstances: Christ must be preached! He was in prison himself, but there were others who were outside getting the Word out, and Paul was not too concerned if there were motives that were less than honorable. Christ is being preached and that gave him joy!

He recognized that in the community of believers it was important to have as much participation in the sharing/preaching of Christ as possible. We could refer to the sharing/preaching of the Gospel as the gathering ministry of Christ.

May we hear the Lord speak to our community (our congregation) and consider as to what our participation in the privilege of gathering with Christ might be.

Our forefathers recognized the importance of living in the freedom that the Gospel alone brings, so that Kingston community of believers would endeavor to participate in this freedom to gather souls with Christ. They seemed to understand the importance of living in the freedom that would enable them to love and serve their neighbor. In the beginning, they had chosen the one verse from Galatians 5:1 that would give them direction for the future success of the community that they were establishing upon the Word of Christ.

KJV Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. (Community)

KJV Galatians 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. (Participation)

KJV 1 Corinthians 9:19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. (Gatherer)

As we continue our studies in Apostle Paul's letter to the Philippian church, may we be reminded of the themes in this letter. Living in joy inspite of difficult circumstances is certainly one of them, but another purpose of this letter relates to what our predecessors kept in mind as they planned for the success of their community of believers: Maintaining unity in the Gospel freedom.

We recall the prayer that Paul prayed for them, which is a prayer for a growing of the love in them and between them so that the fruit of righteousness, or which love is the highest, would flow out ot them through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. It is a prayer we may often pray for ourselves and all others. That the love of God in Christ Jesus would bring them to the knowledge of their need of His forgiveness and to their assurance of His forgiveness.

9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,
10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,
11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.


As we turn to the next paragraph of his letter, in which Paul speaks of his own personal circumstances, we will hear of his burning desire to participate with Christ for the gathering of souls to Him.

12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;
13 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;
14 And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:
16 The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:
17 But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.
18 What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.
19 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.
21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.


Community with Christ
Philippians 1:12 I want you to know, brothers,1 that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel,
13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard1 and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. (for His purposes)

Participation in the body
14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word1 without fear.
15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will.
16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.
17 The former proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.

Gathering Gospel
18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice,
19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, (Participation of the Philippians)
20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.
21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Application
As we consider the example of the Apostle Paul, recognizing that he is our brother who was especially called by Christ to serve him in a unique way, let us consider application for our ownselves today.

One way that we can nurture greater participation in our community is through our williingness to share our life with the life of the rest of our community. One way that we have been approaching this is through asking those in our community to share the story of their life in Christ. Testimonies are not meant to bring glory to ourselves, but they are given for the purpose of giving glory to God who has called us into His community, has equipped us with our unique gifts so that we may participate in the community towards the gathering of souls to God through Christ.

With that, I will read our latest testimony, which you have received already in our latest newsletter which is available in the church narthex should you not have one yet.


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
May the Love and Peace of God abide in your hearts forever.

What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege we have to take all our troubles and worries to our God in prayer.

My name is Lawrence Wilbert Kilpela and I was born in Laurium, Michigan on March 19, 1922 to John and Mary Kilpela. My father supported our family of nine children by working as an accountant. I grew up with four sisters (Irene, Ruth, Estelle, Joan) and four brothers (Paul, Howard, Donald, Carl). In my youth I enjoyed going out to our grandparents farm for extended periods of time, playing baseball with the neighbors and playing football and basketball while I attended Calumet High School.
While in high school I really enjoyed working with wood and I absolutely loved working in wood shop. Most of my life I was a carpenter which allowed me to experience working in the Detroit Art Institute, at the Detroit Lions Office and and Ford's Greenfield Village in Dearborn.
I was in the Navy for three years, serving in WW2, attended Mich Tech for one semester and Suomi College for one year. I was married to Saina on Sept 21, 1945 and we were blessed with had 12 children: Ann, Mike, Fred, Iona, Rebecca, (deceased) Jeff, Joseph, Wendy, Nora, Jill and Karen. (one stillborn)

In 1938 at 16 years of age, I thought I knew all there was to know about church and the bible. What a mistake that was, for that was just the beginning of my learning. I am near 92 years old, still learning and still know very little.

I had attended years of Sunday School and I had memorized nearly all the lessons of the Catechism. I not only had learned a lot about the things of God, but I had also learned much about the history that was in the Bible. But even in knowing all of that, I did not get what it was all about. So up to the time I entered into confirmation class I had little desire to go to church. And just prior to beginning the confirmation of my faith, I had been thinking to myself that after I am done, I am not coming back to the church. I am done.

After going through confirmation class, as we were leaving the pastor, Paul Heideman, who taught us told us as we were leaving the last class: "As you come by me, when I greet you with God's Peace, either you are saying goodbye to me or you are saying God's Peace to me." There were some there whose parents did not attend church for various reasons, so I understood why they would not be coming back, but it came to me that Pastor Heideman was encouraging us and inviting us to continue growing in our knowledge of Jesus by continuing to attend church.

I do not really know when or how, but something happened in my heart as a result of attending confirmation and after I left instead of not going back to church, I not only did that but sometimes I would attend 2 bible studies in one week.

As a result of God's grace to me, I have come to understand more and
more of this gift of salvation which is in Jesus Christ through faith. As I have heard the Word preached, attended Bible studies, discussed with other brothers and sister in faith, and read, meditated and prayed over the scriptures, He has given me more understanding and knowledge of His love for me by the means of the Holy Spirit opening up the Bible to me. The following verses are some examples of how God used His Word to open up to me of the things of faith in Christ.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been, saved through faith, and not of yourselves. It is a gift of God; not of works, lest anyone should boast. 2 Timothy 1:9 God who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.

Romans 4:4-5 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace, but as debt. But to him who does not work, but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.

John 1:12-13 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His Name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

There have been many experiences in my life that I have been encouraged by our God, but it was during the war that I experienced the presence of God in a way that I have never forgotten.
It occurred while I was the island of Caledonia in the Pacific Ocean. In anticipation of the upcoming battle at Bouganville, my fellow soldiers and I appointed to clean and prepare machine guns. At that time I was living in a tent with five other soldiers, and as the time of our departure was drawing near, I found myself thinking about home and my friends back there. As I was lying in my bunk one afternoon thinking about what was going to come in the future, I suddenly felt myself being lifted up. I felt like I was floating above the room and as I did, I was looking down on my five buddies who were all lying in their bunks. It felt like I was in the comforting hand of God who was holding me, but yet I felt frightened. And after a short time, I was back on my bunk and then soon I was peacefully sleeping.

Therefore, having been justified by faith-we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we also have access by faith into this grace in which we stand and rejoice in the hope of the Glory of God. Romans 5:1-2

As we shipped out, I was dropped off on Guadacanal along with some other men from my unit, but the five that I had seen lying in their bunks were shipped on to take part in the Bouganville campaign. I never saw them again and I spent the rest of my time overseas in an aviation repair unit. Then I realized that the experience that I had gone through was my goodbye to those who were sent to Bouganville.

I came home, connected with the girl who then became my wife in 1945. We were married for 40 years and we were blessed with 12 children. She passed away in 1985 and in 1989 Louise Niemela, whose husband had died recently, and I were married and we have now been married for 25 years.

My favorite bible verse is John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. My favorite hymns are: Trust and Obey, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, On Christ the Solid Rock I stand. The person who had the most impact on my life was my father because of the example of his being steadfast in faith.

Things I have learned in life: Don't hold anger against anyone, Don't look on the mistakes of others but take inventory of one's own mistakes.

Highlights of my working life: Working on the church in Farmington as I was the main carpenter, building the altar rail and pulpit in the Kingston church as well as for a few other pulpits in other churches. Graduating from High School and returning home after being overseas and getting married.

What can I say today as I look back on my life: I have been purchased with a precious price, the blood of Christ shed on Calvary's Cross which atoned for my sins and the sins of the world, and I have the sure hope of being in heaven forever. May we all continue to look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith until that day when we are called to be with Him forever!

God's Peace and Love
Lawrence Kilpela

I would invite you to take a copy of Lawry's testimony, sit down with him and listen as he shares of the many ways that the Lord has blessed him in his life in Christ. I am quite sure that he would have times of difficulty through which the Lord took him through. This is only a text message of his life and there would be much benefit in spending time with him and his wife by visiting them in their home, and who knows, you might even have a sauna while you are there.

Community, Participation, Gathering.

Each Saturday morning, a community meets here in our church building, they are participating in the lives of each other, for the purpose of understanding, of support and of encouragement as they struggle with overcoming their addictions while living with the consequences of their actions. While I do not have knowledge of their spiritual understanding of Christ and His Gospel, yet I can easily see the warm fellowship that they enjoy in their community of strugglers. Each time they leave their little community, they embrace one another and look forward to their next time of fellowship together.

Community means that we belong to Christ and that we belong to one another.

Participation means that we are an integral part of the community.

Participating in our community, we share our lives with one another, being willing to invest ourselves in the lives of others both by sharing of ourselves as well as asking others to share their lives with us.

Do we know what is going on in the life of the person sitting next to us?
Does anyone know what I am struggling with now? I wonder what that person is struggling with in their life now? How I wish someone would be my friend.

19 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.
21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Paul acknowledged the benefit that he received from the community's prayers at Philippi. Prayer is one of the key expressions of love. Are there separations in our relationships now? In our immediate family? In our extended family? Let us remember the prayer that is before us in the beginning of this letter.

9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,
10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,
11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Love will guide us into thinking on these two questions: What is right? What is best?

Let us talk to God, first praying that prayer for ourselves, and then for all the others in all levels of community: Family community, church community, world community.

Dear Father, How I ask you to increase the knowledge of your love for me into my entire being, so that I would have discernment so that I would test as to what is excellent, so that I would be found trusting only in your perfection and righteousness, and that I would be filled with your Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

And Lord, I pray for all those in my family, my wife, my children, my grandchildren, all those in our church family, all those in our outlying areas, and well, all people everywhere that you would increase the knowledge of your love in them, so that they would with knowledge be able to discern what is right from what is wrong, approving only that which is excellent, that they would be found trusting only in your righteousness, and that they would be filled with the fruit of righteousness: The fruit of your Spirit unto your praise and glory through Jesus Christ.

May the Spirit of Christ permeate us in a deeper and deeper way and in so doing unite us closer with Him and into Him.

In His love,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 11 Jan 2015 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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Help is on the way Isaiah 40.1.11
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala


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