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

Living for Others 2/8/2015
Dear friend,

May the grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be with us always. Amen.

In chapter two of Paul's letter to the Philippian Christian community, one may outline the chapter into four sections: 1) The call to humility, 2) The greatest example of humility, 3) The exercise of humility, and 4) The illustration of humility.

Essentially what is written in this second chapter is, that since we are Christians, we are called to demonstrate through our attitudes and actions of that which we profess, we are pointed to the sacrificial offering of Christ for us who gave His life for our sin, and we are directed to walk in the light of His Word. At the end of chapter 2, Paul illustrates what this looks like in his relationships with his two brothers in Christ, Timothy and Epaphroditus..

We are blessed to have these examples who have lived long before us, but we also are privileged to be a part of a body of believers in Christ in whom the Holy Spirit abides and Who operates in the same fashion as He did in the early New Testament period.

For just as Christ gave Himself for us, we are called to give our lives for the sake of others, by serving one another in love.

Matthew 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

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.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a theologian who lived during the time of Hitler's Third Reich in Germany during WW II, wrote a small book concerning the Christian community which is entitled Life Together. Here are a few excerpts from this book, parts which point out as to the basis of community in the fellowship of believers, or in the body of Jesus Christ.

"We are bound together by faith, not by experience."

"Jesus Christ alone is our unity. For "He is our Peace" Through Him alone do we have access to one another, joy in one another and fellowship with one another."

Our text today is a continuation of our study in Paul's letter to the Philippian church and begins from verse nine.

Philippians 2:9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

God highly exalts His Son who carried out His purpose in rescuing the world from our lost and condemned condition due to our own disobedience. It is the desire that everyone would come to know and experience this amazing grace of forgiveness which He revealed unto humanity and yet reveals today. In light of the heart of God for the lost, Paul now applies the work of Christ that has been received into the hearts of the believers at Philippi and gives them instruction.

12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

True to form, Paul speaks in a positive manner to his beloved brothers and sister, as he writes that "ye have always obeyed." Of course, we know that that may not be the case, but he speaks as if they are being obedient so as to encourage them to better faithfulness to the Word. We know how that works, for when someone speaks better of us than we are, it lifts us to a higher plane whereas is someone speaks to us in a negative and doubtful tone, it brings discouragement and doubt of ourselves. We remember that in the letter of Philemon, Paul spoke "better things" into the life of Philemon when he wrote the following:

ESV Philemon 1:20-21 Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.

13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

This is not conditional, for this is our state when we are in Christ Jesus. He has energized us by the Holy Spirit. It motivates us towards obedience and not our abilities or strivings.

When we go back into the understanding of the law, we will be obedient in the presence of those who are godly. But if we are away from godly people, we will act out those things that we would not dare to do in their presence. This is the human condition.

The perspective of obedience is in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Because we are saved, we desire to obey.

14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
17 Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.
18 For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.

In the section here, Paul is focusing on the fact that our lives must be the witness. In the history of the spread of Christianity, the blood of the martyrs has been the spreading of the church. People have laid their lives on the line through out the years, sometimes giving their lives unto death. Suffering is from God's perspective, not ours. It is not because of God's anger toward us, but it becomes an opportunity to witness.

19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.
20 For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.
21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.

Often, the aspect of ministry is entangled with what is in it for me. That is what Paul is attacking here, for even in his own time, this is what was going on.

22 But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.
23 Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.
24 But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.
25 Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.
26 For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.
27 For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.
28 I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful.
29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation:
30 Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.

Paul brings it back to the reality of Jesus, who though He was God, He did not stay there in that state, but He laid aside His glory and became our servant in order to bring us to salvation. The important part is to understand who we are in Christ Jesus, that salvation has come to us and that it is reality. The God of human existence in Christ Jesus lives within us and He through His Word and Spirit transform us into thinking and acting like His Son.

Since the fall of last year, we have been inviting those within our community of believers in our congregation to share their testimonies through our monthly newsletter. Today we will hear from two, one from our elder brother Lawry and the other from our sister, Katie. I will read a portion of Lawry's which was in the January newsletter and Katie has agreed to share her testimony herself. As I have stated before, by hearing of their experience in Christ, it offers us the opportunity to get to know them better with the hope that through the sharing of their testimony in a public manner, in print or through speaking, it will draw us all closer together in harmony and purpose with the body of Jesus Christ here in our community of believers.

May the call to live in that which we have been placed, the Body of Jesus Christ, be made alive again as we think of Christ's humility, of the humility of Apostle Paul, of the humility and service of Timothy and Epaphroditus and the of humility of our brother and sister in our congregation.

May all honor be to Christ through these testimonies and may we all be drawn closer together in His love and purpose through these sharings of His life in these two dear ones.

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 some years back, 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 12/2014

To my Dear Church Family,

It is an honor to be asked to write this letter to you. Although I have come a long way in the 15 years I have been a part of this amazing church family I am still not always great at expressing myself. Being able to write it in a letter is a great way for me to accomplish this. This congregation has been a huge part of my journey with Christ from my first steps walking in Christ until present. There is a song in my heart when I think about my church family…Go Light Your World by Chris Rice could clearly describe my relationship with my church family.

Growing up I did not attend church regularly, only the Christmas Eve Service at Bethlehem Lutheran, sometimes my grandpa would take me to Sunday School, and if I spent the night at my aunt’s house on Saturday she would take me to mass with them at a Catholic Church. It was very confusing to me and the major differences between the Catholic and Lutheran Faith was mind boggling. At the age of 8 or so I believed that God had given Adam & Eve the choice to stay in the garden or have children as a result of their sin…maybe that was my way of romanticizing parents.

As many of you know I come from a large family. I have 5 brothers; Karl, Kevin, Tim, Sam, and James, and 4 sisters; Karla, Karen, Jenny, and Rose. I was in the middle of Kevin and Karl which resulted in me being a bit of a tom-boy especially when I was younger. We grew up in town, and my dad worked 2nd shift out at Columbia Gear (the machine shop out in Avon). He worked a lot and was also involved in the Color Guard for the American Legion in Sauk Rapids. As kids we spent many hours in that bar. Both of my grandpa’s, my grandma on my dad’s side, my dad, and all of my uncles served in the military so to us kids it wasn’t a bar it was a family gathering place. The parents would visit and give us kids dimes to plug into the jukebox.

My mom was not a nurturing mom. She herself was drowning in a pool of despair from a traumatic childhood. She was oftentimes overwhelmed and her way of dealing with it was to kick us out of the house. She would as us kids called it torture us by holding us down and cleaning out our ears with bobby pins, and constantly be picking at and popping the boys’ pimples during their teen years. My parents divorced when I was 13 and my mom moved to Iowa when I was 14. She took all the kids younger than me with her when she moved. At the time I was old enough to choose if I wanted to live with my mom or my dad and I chose my dad. He was my hero, along with my grandpa (his dad). But I learned growing up that having heroes in my life wasn’t enough. I was often scared, alone, and after going through the abuse of my mom and my sister’s ex-husband I felt empty. I never thought I would become somebody because I had believed a lot of the people in my family who kept telling me I would never amount to anything.

After my mom moved my dad was working night shift in order to pay the bills at home and child support so I was left alone quite a bit. I couldn’t be mad at my dad, he was trying to do the right thing and he had saved us from mom so many times when she went off on her rampages. But the abuse from sister’s ex-husband got so bad that I couldn’t handle it. I told my mom what was happening and she called me a liar, told me I should consider moving in with her. I didn’t like the option but didn’t have many choices. So I went down to Iowa only to be kicked out of the house within 2 weeks of being there in a state and town I didn’t know. I stayed with a friend whose mom was a prison guard for a few days until I could find different arrangements. Then called my brother and he said to come back. I couldn’t tell him or my dad about the abuse. I was a daddy’s girl and my brother Kevin was more like another parent to me than a brother and I just couldn’t handle telling them and having them look at me like I was damaged goods.

I moved in with a friend a block away from my dad’s house. Her parents didn’t have rules and let them do whatever they wanted. They could have boyfriends spend the night, smoking, drinking…I kept moving from one horrible situation to the next. I got pregnant with Isaac at the age of 18 and my life was a huge mess. I found out his father was abusing drugs among other things and had to make a choice on whether I would try and make it work or if I was going to raise him by myself. Ultimately I decided it wasn’t just me I had to worry about anymore and I needed a strong male in his life if there was going to be one at all. I couldn’t put my child at risk for my fear of being alone. Just when I had my plans made, and had dealt with the fact that I was going to be a single mother I met Josh. God had plans for me even though I didn’t really know Him and accept Him.

That is when I really started my walk with Christ. He introduced me to Dan and Wendy. Here I was 18 and pregnant and they had this beautiful house and they were so different from all the other parents I had met. It took me awhile to even see what it was and then realized that what they were showing was pure, unadulterated love. Something I had no understanding of. How could they just accept me for who I was? Didn’t they know all the terrible stuff I had done? I realize now that the reason I was in such awe was because they were showing me my Savior! They invited me to church and I was nervous to step into a church for the first time. There is something about seeing the nature of God that shows us our need for Him, but yet at the same time I felt so dirty. But I went…

So here I was at this tiny congregation in Kingston holding this unlit candle that Dan and Wendy had given me…I had been robbed of my childhood, lied to, I was scared, and I was desperate. I longed for positive attention and started having hope once again that maybe life does get better. Of course I went through the same feelings as I started meeting different people in the congregation. How could I walk through 18 years of abuse with only meeting a handful of people outside of my family who truly cared about me and in a matter of weeks meet a whole crowd of people who accepted me for who I was and shown me such kindness and generosity? How could they show me such kindness? Don’t they see my scarlet letter? It was quite overwhelming at first, and then soon these people were part of my life, my world. I was surrounded in love and goodness. I met most of you when I was at the lowest point in my life. I had no direction, no discipline, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and never dared to even dream about it.

So I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of you for lighting my candle through your words of kindness, and compassion, for showing me the true meaning of unconditional love, for teaching me through your actions who my Savior really is. Thank you for feeding my passion to learn more about our Savior, for teaching & showing me that I can have a life full of joy, and love. You all in some way have helped me through my struggle that I don’t have to be the kind of mom that my mom was.

I am blessed to know the exact moment that I gave my life to Christ. When I was 28 weeks pregnant with Isaac I developed severe toxemia and they had to give me an emergency c-section because Isaac’s life was in danger. Here I was being prepped for OR and they moved me to this long metal table that had arms that slide out at the side, and I remember it looking like a cross and I was about to be strapped to it. I started thinking about Christ and what I had learned he had done for us, for me. And I knew that I was ready to quit trying to go through life alone, and that I needed Him, but more than that, I wanted Him in my life. I saw His character through each of you and knew He was someone loving, not just someone who moved us around on a chess board however He saw fit, sacrificing some in order to protect others. I understood in that moment that God wasn’t the one that made all those things happen to me…He was the one who reached out to me in times of desperation. He was the one calling to me in the darkness.

Since I have accepted Christ life hasn’t been all roses and daisies; however, I now have Christ in my corner helping me through His Word, His Spirit, and the fellowship of the Church family He chose for me.

One of the most important lessons I have learned through and with all of you is that we are not perfect people, a perfect family, but Christ is the glue that holds us together. So in times when we are struggling all we have to do is hold fast to Him, and let Him work in our hearts. Running away won’t solve our problems, or our hurt. But being willing to face the issues with an open heart and a willingness to communicate lovingly will help us move beyond any stumbling block Satan can throw at us.

There are so very many amazing bible verses to choose to share with you, so I have decided to leave you with these verses, because this describes what I saw and continue to see in all of you, my beloved church family. And this is who you have helped me transform into…

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:1-2

Always remember…But now O Lord, You are our Father; We are the clay, and you our potter; And all we are the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8

No matter where you are, and when you are there, God’s will prevails. He will continue to shape us and mold us as we walk through this life with our imperfections. He will pick us up, dust us off, and reshape and strengthen us as long as we allow Him. Forgive yourselves as you forgive others.

May God’s pure and perfect Love and Peace be with you my dear Family in Christ, all the days of your lives.


Katie Salo
Posted on 08 Feb 2015 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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The Cross of Christ 2.25.2018
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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*Wendy and Dan Salo: Strength & courage to trust Him w/her health concerns