Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Praise Report!

Like many congregations, my congregation has had the problem of having confirmands disappear off the face of the earth. It is as if once they get that confirmation verse in hand, they simply vanish never to be seen again.

If one were to look at the past classes of confirmands, you would be hard pressed to find one who still attends today. There are many reasons for this, but I think that the biggest one is that after confirmation, these children (young adults) were not assimilated into the life of the congregation. Somehow this cycle needs to be broken.

This past year, I had, for the first time in my five years, "Confirmands!" The Lord brought three young members forward to confirm their faith. Not wanting to lose them like many of the previous confirmands, I prayed and searched for ways to include them. This is not easy in a congregation where the average age is 70 plus.

I have come up with two great ideas to include these young members. The first was to make one the webmaster for our website and a junior member of the Board of Trustees. The second was to make another a teacher’s aide in Sunday School, working with the teacher that she liked the best. Praise the Lord that both youth have accepted the challenge and are excited about serving their Lord and His Church.

I am still searching for one other way to include the third recent confirmand. Thankfully he has a father and mother who insist on his attending church. This gives me more time to think and search for that right spot. Pray that God will provide a way for him to become more involved.

Answered Prayers

I have members come to me from time to time and tell me about how they have prayed and yet God has not answered their prayers or they have yet to see results. While it is true that they may not have SEEN results from their prayers, I believe that God certainly has heard their prayers and has answered them. The answer is one of three: Yes, No, or Not Yet (ask again later).

Now, I understand that when people say that God has not yet answered their prayers that they are more than likely saying, "God has not answered my prayers the way that I want Him to." And yet, He has answered them. Prayer is an exercise in patience. I'm still learning, as I am sure you also are, to be patient in waiting on the Lord to help me with my problems, concerns, etc.

Prayer and what it means to pray must be on many peoples' minds. Even the Michigan District of the LCMS is devoting the 2012 Pastor's Conference to it. I know that it is on my mind and the minds of my family maybe even yours.

But prayer is not only an exercise in patience, it is a way that we are taught to communicate with God. Through prayer, we grow in our relationship with the Lord. As Luther says in his introduction to the Lord's Prayer, (Our Father who art in heaven) "with these words God tenderly invites us to beleive that He is our true Father and that we are His true children, so that with all boldness and confidence we may ask Him as dear children ask their dear father."

I love when my children come to me with their requests, their "prayers." They can ask me anything. But as their father, I am genuinely concerned for their well-being. I need to decide if their request is good for them or not. I do this because I love them. I don't want any harm to come to them and so I discern their request. I answer their request with the same three answers I have above: Yes, No, or Not Yet. This ‘give and take’ with my children allows them to learn about me and me about them; it allows us to grow in relationship.

This is much like our relationship with our Lord and how it grows. Because we are adopted children of God in our Baptisms, we are able to address the Lord God as our dear Father and we are His dear children. We are able to talk with Him as His dear children. God wants to hear our prayers. He wants us to talk with Him. He is not an absentee Father, but a very active and loving Father. Go to Him often in prayer. Set aside time each day where are alone and able to pray to your Father and don't just pray, but take time to listen meditating on His Word.