Words of Grace by Pastor Benson – August 2020
The Battle is Not Yours but God’s
Excerpts from Pastor Benson’s Report to the AFLC Annual Conference as the Director of Military Chaplains
“Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army, for the battle is not yours but God’s. (2 Chronicles 20:15b)
What enemies are you battling with today? Right now the world is being confronted with an unseen enemy in the form of the COVID-19 virus. As this battle and others rage on throughout our land and lives it is important for us to hear the truth that…. ….“the battle is not ours but God’s.”
I am honored and humbled to serve as the new Director of Military Chaplains for the AFLC! Our previous Director, Pastor Mark Antal, has faithfully completed his “tour of duty” in this position and we say to Mark, “well done good and faithful servant!”
What does God call military chaplains to do? Military chaplains are today’s prophets who speak God’s words of truth, counsel and courage to the men and women our country has entrusted into their care. Military chaplains are faithful spiritual shepherds to both young recruits and seasoned leaders. Every day they are a moral compass pointing their flock to God’s Word and to the Savior, Jesus Christ. Military chaplains are visible reminders of The Holy One and they remind their troops that many of the challenges they face each day are spiritual battles that only God Himself can win for them.
Currently we have one AFLC pastor actively serving as a military chaplain: Chaplain (Colonel) John Eidsmoe continues to serve as a Chaplain with the Mississippi State Guard. Let us uphold Chaplain Eidsmoe and his wife Marlene in prayer as military service often means serving away from home and family.
Let us also pray daily for God’s protection, provision and peace upon all the men and women of the AFLC who are serving in the Armed Forces and for their families.
Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” (Matthew 9:37)
Will you commit to praying for God’s call upon our young men and our current seminary students and pastors, for some of them to serve as military chaplains? The need is urgent, the sacrifices are real and the rewards are great!
Pray for Our Church Family & Friends
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving, present your request to God.” Philippians 4:6
In Need of Healing:
Bob Arnsdorff, Katie Becker, Don Edmondson, Jason Hecht, Alberta Larson, Judy Peterson, Bob Stangland, Bob Vetter, Bob Williams
Brandon McDonnell Family / Becky Erickson Family
May God’s richest blessings be upon our members celebrating a birthday or marriage anniversary during this month!
Celebrating Birthdays in August
Tyler Ranallo, Kris Houchin, Tecya Anderson, Ruth Bright, Patty Houchin, Selena Visser
Howard & Janet Torkelson, Lyle & Kim Hecht
Serving Our Country
Tracy Graham (US Coast Guard), Kendall Wills (US Navy), Matthew Cepiel (US Navy), Alex Mata, (US Army)
Operation Christmas Child Love Gifts
August – markers, crayons, pencils, small pads of paper, calculator and/or flash light with extra batteries
WMF Bible study and fellowship time on Thursday, August 20 at the church. Lesson 7: Joseph…God working out His perfect plan (Part 1). Hostess: Mary Smith. Study Leader: Pastor Craig.
Confirmation Sunday – August 9, Carter Laudeman will be Confirmed in the Christian Faith and will be receiving his first Communion. May God’s peace and joy be upon Carter as he professes his faith in Jesus Christ!
In Remembrance – Let us continue to pray for the Family of Brandon McDonnell, who passed away July 22 after an 11 month battle with brain cancer. Brandon’s parents are Bill and Lisa and brother Brady. His grandparents are Mike and Cheryl Wallin of Minooka and Dan and Nancy McDonnell of Ottawa and great-grandparents Don and Bev Anderson of Minooka and Theresa Revelle of Ottawa. May God’s Spirit of peace and encouragement rest upon the entire families.
In Remembrance – A dear member of our church and friend in Christ, Becky Erickson, passed away on July 27. We are saddened yet we also rejoice in God’s heavenly blessings that Becky is enjoying as she is in the arms of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Please keep her husband Woody and her children Tracy and Matt Wills, Craig and Pauline Erickson and their children in your prayers for God’s healing and comfort during this time. May God continue to bless the life, love and faithful witness of Becky among us and her family!
Marriage Blessings – We Rejoice with Jackie Anderson and Michael Youmans as they were married on Saturday, August 1, 2020. The ceremony was held at Immanuel Lutheran Church, rural Thomasboro, IL. Parents of the Bride are Kirk and Tecya Anderson, Parents of the Groom are Mark and Teresa Youmans, Maid of Honor was Kirstie Anderson (Sister of the Bride), Grandfather of the Bride is Rolf Anderson. We ask God’s blessings upon Michael and Jackie as they become one in Jesus Christ!
Stavanger Pork Chop Supper – Saturday, August 29. Serving time 4:30-6:30pm See flyer on bulletin board – For tickets call 343-3304 or 474-1187, there will a Drive-Thru option.
Sunday School Rally Day – Sunday, September 13. We are planning on having our worship service and activities at Goold Park Central, across from the Morris Pool.
Confirmation Classes – Tentatively begin the first week of September. Senior students are Maddie Crowley & Zach Chapman. Junior students are Cade Laudeman, Emily Ranallo, Izzy Salinas & Tyler Ranallo.
A Tribute to Becky Erickson
(written by her son-in-law, Matt Wills)
“An Angel’s Life On Earth”
One pretty fall day, many years ago,
Nineteen forty-five, the year,
A gift was given from heaven above,
A gift so pure and dear.
“Let the children come to me,”
Jesus said, don’t hinder them,
She grew into a beautiful flower,
Perfect, from pedal to stem.
And as she grew, as little girls do,
She learned her lessons, very well,
Her parents saw she went to church,
To seek heaven, turn away from hell.
She did most things, that most kids did,
Though not every day was full of fun,
She helped her parents, with her brothers,
Lots of dishes to be done.
She learned the rules and the rosary,
Confirmed in the Christian church,
Seeking to find God’s plan for her,
Becky continued, on her search.
High school days, were making grades,
Returning home to help bake and fry,
Which led to one of her happiest times,
Earning the title, “miss cherry pie”.
Shortly thereafter, a year or two,
At a farmhouse in Nettle Creek,
She said “I do”, to the man she loves,
At her passing, still cheek to cheek.
She shows it’s right, to be with just one man,
The way God intended marriage to be,
Through struggles, and health, and losses herself,
Becky remains full of integrity.
Then came the jobs, oh how she can work,
Whatever task, wouldn’t fret or moan,
Whether at “the Pig” or Walgreens Store,
And many years at the Building and Loan.
Her friendship with her co-workers,
Helps bring everyone together,
Always smiling and always sunny,
Shining brightest in stormy weather.
Honor thy father and thy mother,
Another command that Jesus gave,
Unconditional love, Becky gives,
To her parents, from birth to grave.
As a mother, her caring, has no measure,
Like God’s love for us, so sweet,
This same love, she pours into her children,
Overflowing and complete.
Hugs when you win and hugs when you lose,
Open ears, open mind, open heart,
Not enough water in all the seas,
To describe her love, can’t even start.
Her smile, her words, her hugs, her joy,
Which of these, will you remember most?
She gives thanks for these gifts every day,
To the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
We don’t know the day, we don’t know the hour,
Not a clue when our lives will end,
So we should try each day, to be just like Becky, An Angel, a Helper, a Friend!
AFLC ANNUAL CONFERENCE / AUGUST 10-12 / THE ARC IN WISCONSIN
The Association Retreat Center (ARC) is located in northwestern Wisconsin along the beautiful St. Croix River Valley. We are just 45 minutes from the Minneapolis-St Paul Metropolitan area and 8 miles south of Osceola, Wisconsin.
Over the years the ARC continued to expand its offerings and is now a year-round, full service camp and retreat center with five main meeting rooms, a full-service kitchen, a man-made swimming lake and the ability to lodge up to 600 guests.
Throughout the year the ARC hosts both faith-based and non-faith based groups. Family Camps, Bible Camps, craft and quilt groups, recovery groups and athletic groups are just a few examples of groups that find the ARC a great place to ‘Come Away and Rest Awhile’ for retreats, conferences, camps and other events.
EXCERPTS FROM THE PRESIDENT’S REPORT
Pastor Lyndon Korhonen, AFLC President
To the 58th Annual Conference of the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations gathered at the Association Retreat Center in Osceola, WI August 10-12, 2020.
The Theme of this year’s conference is: “Will He Find Faith?” taken from Luke 18:8. Jesus tells this parable on prayer and uses an unjust judge to illustrate that we, in contrast to this judge, have a just God who quickly brings about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night. However, then comes this startling question in regard to the time when Jesus returns to earth. Will He find faith?
It is a question that we should allow to “keep running” in the not-so-distant background of our minds. In our world we observe life going on from day to day with little thought about eternity. It seems that only when a “famous” person is taken from this world in an accident, that the world stops to think of family and may even mention prayer. However, as God’s elect, by faith in the work of Christ, may we be quick to call on our Heavenly Father day and night. It’s a good discipline in walking in the light with Jesus through life.
As of January 2020 there are 253 congregations in the AFLC. We have lost a few more congregations from last year. Some are due to not being able to find an AFLC pastor and looking elsewhere. Some are congregations that have declined in numbers through the years and can no longer pay a pastor. I still believe there are viable ministries in many of these areas if we had a pastor who could be a “tentmaker” and visit diligently in the community to grow friendships with people.
Pray, Pray, Pray
Back in 2016 I called for us to pray for 40 pastors and 40 laymen. We thank the Lord that we are getting close to 40 new pastors. But, there are fewer laymen. Pastors, you have an opportunity in your congregations to disciple young, middle-age and older men to be lay preachers. Pray the Lord would call forth men that you can work with on a monthly basis to train how to prepare a sermon or a Bible Study.
We face great needs in churches that cannot afford a full-time pastor. Think of the impact you and your congregation can have in training a shepherd for another congregation or perhaps your own when the Lord calls you elsewhere.
With that being said I want to place before you another prayer challenge. I believe the largest class we have ever had is 14 in one class in our seminary. Would you join me in praying for a class of 20? We are facing a critical need for pastors in the coming years and I want to keep that need before you. There is only One who can help us with this.
The Lord of the church, Jesus Christ, is the One who must call forth men. But we can pray. I believe our theme verse applies to this area also. God is a God of miracles! We believe it would take an extraordinary work of God to have a class of 20 in our seminary. Will you join me in praying fervently for this?
When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the earth?
Thank you so much for the way you have given this past year to the Lord’s work. The right form of the kingdom of God on earth is the local congregation. It is as you send in gifts to our various departments that they can do ministry. As a whole, the ministries of the AFLC received 80% of their subsidy requests.
The future for the AFLC
In a world where truth is denied and even churches turn away from the truth of God’s Word, how crucial is the need for an association of Lutheran churches who stand on the eternal, inerrant Word of God? The need has never been greater! What does it mean to you for future generations to hear and understand the truths of God’s Word?
Though we may be small in light of other denominations, we have an extremely important role to stand for truth, and to be a Light in a dark world. God has never needed large numbers through which to do His work. Let us be faithful to Him and His Word!
I thank the Lord for the opportunity to be a part of an eternal kingdom! Thank you, AFLC family, for praying for me that I might serve you well. May the Lord help us to lovingly serve Him until He comes to take us to glory! Pastor Lyndon Korhonen, AFLC President
Dave Bateman, Elburn, IL (from Agri-News approximately 2004)
Farming, Fathers and Family – Gifts From God!
2 ½ to 4 ½ inches of rain have certainly brought fieldwork to a standstill over the weekend. In the narrow time slot of midweek planters planted, sprayers sprayed, mowers mowed, balers baled and some cultivators cultivated. Wherever conditions permitted, it seemed that some activity was taking place. In the realm of playing catch-up, the pressure was really on, and a lot got done in that short amount of time.
Several farmers got into those drowned out spots and replanted them just in time to see the ponds fill up again. Mowing the yard has even become a challenge, between showers and the swarms of mosquitoes that have suddenly come to life.
A lot of corn is closing the rows as the warm wet weather has really accelerated a growth spurt. Certainly weed control and side dressing have been put to the test as wet ground and rapid growth close the window of application. Sprayers are picking their way around the wet spots to make as much progress as possible in both corn and bean fields.
As the corn turned a darker green, wheat fields are rapidly turning lighter. Most is headed out and turning fairly rapidly from green to shades of yellow. Those attempting to make hay have faced challenges of very narrow windows of opportunity with many fields being washed more than once.
Personal: This Sunday is Father’s Day and a time to remember “Dear old Dad.” As a boy you looked up to him, as a teenager you couldn’t believe how backwards he was, as an adult you came to respect his wisdom, and when he’s gone you can’t imagine how much you miss him. He could challenge you to do your best, and sometimes it never seemed enough. He could push you to your limits and sometimes ask for more. He could be stern, unbending, sometimes downright difficult, but in the final analysis sought only what He thought was best for you.
The twinkle in his eye captured his pride as he saw you accomplish things. There were times when you disagreed with his methods, but you never doubted his love. Often the words were never spoken, it was part of his generation, but love of family and farm, stewardship of land and livestock, reliance on a sometimes capricious Creator, were all part of who he was and the legacy he left behind.
Fame was something he never sought and fortune would depend on definition, but friends were many and faith was real. Dad believed in the golden rule and often his church was on the farm, where he was closest to His Creator, yet the memories are still fresh and the legacy of His love lingers. Thanks for everything, Dad!
P.S. Grandchildren have a unique ability to bring out the soft side of even those who attempt resistance. If you watch carefully, you might catch them saying “I love you, too” when that little one says, “I love you Grandpa.” Families are a gift from God!