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Reaching the goal

When concerns about earthly goals arise, we remember that Jesus already accomplished reaching the goal of our faith: the salvation of our souls. 

Jonathan P. Bilitz 

Take a deep breath. Okay, let it out. One more timeinhale deeply . . . and exhale. Do you ever use this relaxation technique? 

For many college students, anxiety marks this time of year. Final exams have arrived or lurk around the corner. Late nights of studyingdeep breathing, extra coffeeall of these can be ways students cope with the end of a semester and the tests that accompany the finish.  

How do you cope? Some students set parameters for themselves. “I will be in bed by 1:00 a.m.” “I am going over all the material three times and then calling it good.” “I am going to eat a healthy breakfast before the test.” The bottom line is that students want to have successful results on the exams they take. Successful test results mean degree that translates into a profession and provides work with both joy and income to live. 

Maybe that is why final exams have pressure attached to them. The future might depend on the results!  

Semester exams can serve as a picture of the trials God’s people experience this side of heaven. Peter knew the struggles that Christians face. But Peter also had seen Jesus. As one of the Lord’s disciples, he was an eyewitness to Jesus’ teachings, his miracleshis death and resurrection. Those who received his letters did not experience that same benefit. And neither have we. 

So Peter provides this encouragement, Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:8,9). We don’t see Jesus with our physical eyes, but we love him because he first loved us. His love fills us with joy that is beyond words.  Not only do we have a peace that calms our weary and anxious hearts, but our lives have direction! 

A deep focus on the tasks in front of us might cause us to lose sight of our goal. We become engrossed in what we can see, what we can touch, what we can hold. Yet what we cannot see truly brings joy. The goal of our faiththe salvation of our souls—is complete. The perfection of heaven awaits. 

Did you happen to notice that Peter uses a present-tense verb? You are receiving the end result of your faith. Our goal is so certain that the Bible tells us it is already ours. Jesus finished the payment; he burst forth from the grave. Your eternal goal is accomplished through Christ.  

Then what about our earthly goals? What about the trials we experience? What about the anxiety we feel when preparing for and taking exams? Jesus invites us to cast anxieties on him (1 Peter 5:7). He promises that he has plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11). He reminds us that nothing can separate us from his love (Romans 8:37-39). Jesus assures us that we are never alone (Hebrews 13:5). 

When concerns about our earthly goals arise, we remember that reaching the goal of our faith, the salvation of our souls, has already been accomplished by Jesus. Paul reflected, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). 

So take a deep breath and let it outJesus has got this. 


Jonathan Bilitz is pastor at Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel, Madison, Wisconsin.


 

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Author: Jonathan P. Bilitz
Volume 106, Number 5
Issue: May 2019

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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A parent’s worries and advice

mom discusses the importance of talking to your children about what they may encounter when they go to college. 

Mary Sieh 

We recently took our 18-year-old to college orientation day. The first day we learned fun social events to help get students settled in. Day 2 included “Sex Discussion 101—a fun way to ask all the questions you want.” Two days into their new college life, not knowing anyone yet, students were being encouraged to discuss sex togetherand with adults who likely won’t hold the same values as our family does. I was worried, but I found courage and now want to offer some advice. 

Parents, it’s no lie when you hear folks say, “If your kids aren’t learning about sex from you, they are learning about it from someone else.” Even when they are learning about it from you, they are still hearing from other sources too. Take the opportunity to talk to your kids from young ages on up, and not just once. Include all topics. Don’t assume they get what you mean. Be specific. Ask for your teens thoughts on certain matters. Give them space to talk without pressuring them to conform to what you may want. Plant the seeds along the way but know you can only leave the growth of those seeds in the Lord’s very trustworthy hands. And take heart! Your children are listening to you and value what you tell them above all others. 

Your children will face decisions such as their roommates asking if their girlfriends or boyfriends can sleep over in the dorm room. Discuss with your teens exit strategies at parties. Discuss how they plan to carry themselves daily in a manner that will act as a defense against any allegations. They are going to need these memories to help them make decisions that support their values and goals in life.  

Ask your teens what those values and goals are in their lives—academically, spiritually, and relationally. Help them vocalize what it might take to achieve these goals. Where will they find help along the way? Their bodies may look all grown upbut their heads and hearts still need the guidance Dad and Mom can provide. Don’t shy away just because they act like they’ve got this all figured out. They don’t.  

Our best defense for our children is prayer. Start now, and do it relentlessly. Our Father in heaven is listening! Regularly let your children know you are praying for them to remind them of the blessings you are asking the Lord to give them. We don’t parent out of fear, but rather out of love, hope, anticipation, and trust in the Lord’s Word—that is exciting! 

Then encourage your children in the Lord—for he has done marvelous things. They need to hear about your faith and the ups and downs you’ve experienced. We don’t merely have a God who resides in the words on the pages of a book. We have a Mighty Counselor and Friend who is alive and active! Let your God shine at home with your family. They need to know they have a Savior who loves them and will help them even when the going gets real and tough.  

It’s evident that we haven’t always taken to heart the seriousness of 1 Peter 5:8: Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. I am so thankful Jesus has paid the price for us. We can rest in his promises, no matter where we may fall short as parents or what may come our kids’ ways as they head off to college.  


Mary Sieh is a member at Good Shepherd, Burnsville, Minnesota. 


Read a college student’s perspective on the importance of open communication between parents and their children in college in another article.



 

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Author: Mary Sieh
Volume 105, Number 3
Issue: March 2019

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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A fresh start

With our God, the past is truly passed. 

Jonathan P. Bilitz 

So how did your first semester go? GPA is exactly where you want it to be, right? You sailed through the semester without a worry in the world—no stress, no anxiety, no late-night study sessions.  

If that was your experience, what a blessing from God! Most likely, your semester provided challenges to face on a weekly or even daily basis. What a relief when the semester ends. You made it! The tests are taken, the projects completed, the papers written. Semester break provides a welcome respite from the daily grind a college student faces.  

The opportunity for a fresh start ranks among the biggest blessings of a semester break. When the next semester begins, everything starts new—a new opportunity to study harder, manage time better, get more sleep, and pray more frequently for God’s strength. What happened in the past has passed. Picture the panorama of new possibilities on the horizon!  

A new calendar year affords similar benefits. Millions of people make New Year’s resolutions—promises made to themselves to do better. Many appreciate turning the page on the calendar to turn the page to a better life. The past has passed. “This time I will get it right!” is the mantra of a new year. 

You know how many of those resolutions turn out. Disappointment is a frequent visitor to our lives. We are disappointed by our circumstances, by the people around us, and also by ourselves. The best intentions to change are genuine, but inevitably we struggle to live up to those expectations.  

As a new semester and a new year start, making plans and striving for change is admirable. But a dose of reality is also wise. We live in a fallen world and battle a sinful nature in which nothing good lives. The good we want to do we can’t always do. Faithfulness to our promises and resolutions escapes us. 

We need someone who changes that, and God provided that change through Jesus. The author of Lamentations describes his confidence in God with these words: “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (3:22,23). God’s compassion, his deep love, and his mercy always triumph. Our unfaithfulness is covered by the faithfulness of our God. 

Were you grabbed by the phrase, “They are new everyone morning”? Talk about a fresh start! God doesn’t wait until a new year or a new semester. His mercies present themselves, every day, every hour, every minute! With our God, the past is truly passed. He forgives our failures and remembers our sins no more. Jesus faithfully lived for us, willingly died for us, and victoriously rose to secure God’s blessings. 

Each night, we can confess our failures and sleep well, trusting we are forgiven through Jesus. Each morning, we can awake refreshed, asking for God’s strength to live for him, knowing his mercies cover us. When we don’t measure up, God invites us to come right back to the cross of Jesus to find a fresh start. 

Enjoy the new semester and the new year. Appreciate the fresh start they promise. Relish the fresh start that the mercy of God gives you in Jesus not just at the start of a semester but each and every day of your life.  

Like the writer of Lamentations concludes: “I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion; therefore, I will wait for him’ ” (3:24). 


Jonathan Bilitz is pastor at Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel, Madison, Wisconsin.  


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Author: Jonathan P. Bilitz
Volume 106, Number 1
Issue: January 2019

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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One of the other nine

For what are you thankful? In every blessing, every gift, every challenge, every crisis—you can thank God for his love in Jesus.  

Jonathan P. Bilitz  

You don’t know my name. You may have read a little about me and probably have a bad impression of me. I don’t blame you. I am a small part of a famous Bible story.  

Do you remember the story of the ten lepers? You know, the one where only the Samaritan returned to thank Jesus? That’s my story. I was one who did not return. I was one about whom Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?” (Luke 17:17). There are no excuses for what I did—or better, what I didn’t do. I simply pray you learn from my failure.  

I was dead. Or at least in the hearts of those who knew me, in the minds of everyone else, I was as good as dead. Death is the sentence of leprosy. I was living apart from the people I loved, living with others who were afflicted like me. No healthy person wanted to come near me. Worst of all, leprosy had no cure. I was dead. 

Can you imagine my anticipation when I heard that the great healer, Jesus, was going to be near? You can undoubtedly picture my joy as my body became whole on my way to the priests. Maybe you wonder, What was he thinking? How could he neglect to give Jesus a simple word of thanks? 

I have no excuse. I was thinking only of myself. I thought about what I was going to do with my new lease on life. How wonderful it was to be healed! Worse than my selfishness, I had no appreciation for the real Jesus. I have replayed that day in my mind many times. Oh, for a second chance!  

That’s why I am writing this letter. Time passed before I understood how wrongly I had acted. Then I heard news about the teacher who healed me. Jesus’ tragic death saddened me deeply. I heard stories about his resurrection. But that’s exactly what I considered them—stories.  

But something changed. As I looked at my life, I felt something missing. I thought I was happy. After all, the death sentence leprosy had pronounced had been miraculously lifted. Yet something wasn’t right. 

I began to learn more about my healer, and my eyes were opened. The Spirit of God used Jesus’ life, his death, and his resurrection to reveal he is more than just a healer and teacher. Jesus is the Messiah about whom the Old Testament prophesied. He is the Great Prophet about whom Moses spoke. He is the Lamb led to the slaughter that Isaiah presented. Jesus is my Savior, but not only from leprosy. He is my Savior from sin and death itself! 

Suddenly the guilt of my thanklessness seemed even greater. I had offended God himself! Then I saw that Jesus’ life and death were for me. Jesus lived perfectly when I could not. He suffered the punishment that should have been mine. My sin and my guilt were completely gone—just as my leprosy had been taken away! I am at peace with God.  

My joy overflows into words and actions with only one purpose—to praise and glorify the Savior who loves me so much he healed me twice. 


Jonathan Bilitz is pastor at Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel, Madison, Wisconsin. 


 

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Author: Jonathan P. Bilitz
Volume 105, Number 11
Issue: November 2018

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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Put it on the list!

The list for back-to-school musthaves for college students includes Jesus. 

Jonathan P. Bilitz 

Do you remember the excitement of back-to-school shopping when you were in elementary school? The supply list meant a trip to the store. There were some tough decisions: Do I get the big glue stick or three smaller ones? What is the difference between wide-ruled and college-ruled paper? Even though the list says a 24-pack of crayons is enough, can I get the 128-pack? (There is nothing quite like using a crayon for the first time, is there?) Maybe you recall the sense of accomplishment when you found and checked everything off your list. Then it was time to wait for back-to-school night or the first day when you could fill your desk with all your new supplies. 

The college back-to-school list is a bit different, isn’t it? Instead of crayons, you are picking out bedding. Glue sticks are out, but desk lamps, a coffee maker, and dorm décor are in. Instead of filling your desk with your new supplies, you are filling your car to move all your stuff to your dorm or apartment. You may ask yourself, “How I am ever going to fit all this stuff in my car?” 

There’s one more thing you shouldn’t forget on your off-to-college list: Staying connected to Jesus. Pack your Bible, find some devotional material, locate the nearest church, or connect with the campus ministry at your college.  

Why? Because the Lord knows the challenges ahead of you. He knows your excitement and your fear. He knows how to pick you up when you stumble and lift you up when you are down.  

When you feel lonely, God is right there with you: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). When pressures and worries mount, give them to your Lord: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). When sleep escapes you, hear Jesus’ invitation for spiritual rest: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Find your “go-to” promise in God’s Word and keep it in your heart. 

Connecting to God’s promises will bring you comfort and peaceThat will only be enhanced by locating and becoming a part of a community of believers. Maybe a local church will fill that bucket for you. Introduce yourself as a college student. Ask about any activities they might have to get you involved. Other Christians, as a family away from home, can provide encouragement—and sometimes food! 

Another great option is a WELS campus ministry. Becoming active in the local campus ministry provides an opportunity to network with other students. Encouragement and strength come when you recognize you are not alone in your faith. Lifelong friendships often form through college groups. Most of all, you have the opportunity to grow in faith as you connect with God’s Word. We know that “faith comes from hearing the message” (Romans 10:17). 

If you haven’t finished your off-to-college shopping—or even if you have—it’s not too late to put one last thing on the list: prepare to cultivate your faith in Jesus. Connect with him personally and consider getting plugged in with others who will encourage you and whom you can encourage on your walk with Jesus. That’s much more important than bath towels or a shower caddy.  


Jonathan Bilitz is pastor at Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel, Madison, Wisconsin. 


WELS conducts more than 550 campus ministries across the United States and Canada. Find the campus ministry in your area plus register with the national WELS Campus Ministry Committee at wels.net/campus-ministry.  


 

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Author: Jonathan P. Bilitz
Volume 105, Number 9
Issue: September 2018

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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Unexpected joy

We may never clearly know why something happened and what purpose it served. But comfort comes from the Lord in his promise of plans that give us hope and a future.

James D. Roecker

Milestones in life are occasions for celebrations. A couple makes special preparations for their 25th wedding anniversary. Surprise birthday parties are planned and sprung on someone’s special day. UW–Stevens Point graduates cap their completion of school with a graduation celebration. Those involved know the moment will come and the experience will most likely be enjoyable. Planned events come with expectations, especially when you know what’s coming. Aside from a surprise birthday party, all these milestones have an expected joy attached.

The opposite also can be true. Regardless of how meticulously you plan a celebration, unexpected things may pop up. Your entrée choice at your wedding anniversary restaurant is unavailable. The birthday cake is forgotten for the surprise party. Not enough food was ordered for the graduation party, so some people leave hungry and a tad disappointed. The unexpected threatens to ruin the joy of special celebrations. Uncertainty tends to undermine owning the joy of the moment. Even the encouragement—expect the unexpected—does not really help put the mind at ease.

Plans we make and the expectations we have for them pale in comparison to the plans the Lord has for his people. And the Lord’s plans always come to be just as he prepared them. The Lord even gives us this promise: “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’ ” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Life brings moments that we do not fully understand. We may never clearly know why something happened and what purpose it served during our earthly journey. But comfort comes from the Lord in his promise of plans that give us hope and a future. We now can live in peace and joy with eyes that look forward to an unknown future that culminates with a life that lasts forever in the glory of heaven.

Serving as a campus pastor brings with it certain expected joys. Preparing Bible studies with collegians solely in mind brings joy. Creating an environment that encourages questions and sharing personal spiritual struggles is a unique experience. The Holy Spirit is surely at work, strengthening faith and encouraging Christian brothers and sisters in their walk of faith. Each pastor collegians encounter during their lifetime will, Lord willing, show them Jesus. God will surely make faith grow through Word and sacrament. God, through the apostle Paul tells us: “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (1 Corinthians 3:5-7). Those who share the Word are coworkers in service to God.

Joy in campus ministry can also be unexpected. Texts and phone calls can come at any time of day. Some struggle with temptation and sin. Others want clarification on how a certain portion of Scripture applies to their life. Certain collegians are coming back to the church after a long absence. In these unexpected conversations, the joy is always in showing them Jesus. He alone gives us an enduring joy, an unexpected joy, because he has given us something we do not deserve—forgiveness of sins and life eternal.


James Roecker is pastor at St. Andrew, Saint Paul Park, Minnesota.


 

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Author: James D. Roecker
Volume 105, Number 7
Issue: July 2018

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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Life’s arrow

The seemingly endless stress and hardship that we feel now is a tiny speck of time compared to the eternity that we will spend with Jesus. 

Katelyn Raddatz 

To us, time seems like such a definite thing. Sixty seconds from now, I expect my clock to show that one minute has passed. Sixty minutes from now, I will be one hour closer to my alarm waking me tomorrow morning. 

Because time seems so definite to us, we often complain. We complain when we’re so busy that we feel we have no time to relax. We turn to God and beg for a break. When he answers, we feel content. But then contentedness fades, and we complain again. We complain of boredom, because we don’t have enough to keep us occupied. Then the cycle repeats itself.  

Our lives are like roller coasters. They have their ups and downs, their sharp turns and dramatic changes in speed. But unlike a roller coaster’s path, which we can see in advance, we lead our lives blind, not knowing what lies ahead. We may try to map out our lives in advance, planning how we think things should go, but more often than not our path turns right when we thought a left turn would be best. Our roller coaster speeds up when we want it to slow down and slows down when we so desperately want it to fast forward. We struggle because we cannot accurately pinpoint when our lives are going to be hectic and stressful. 

To us, tragedies and sadness seem like they are such a gigantic part of our lives, but in reality, they are not.  I’m reminded of something a teacher showed our class in grade school. He used the geometric description of a ray (a line with a start point but no end point) to explain what God promises us: an eternal place in heaven. Our life begins at one point, and we die at one point. Throughout that time, we go through ups and downs. We experience things that make our lives come to a complete halt. But when life gets tough and time seems to stand still, we find comfort in God’s promise. The seemingly endless stress and hardship that we feel now is really a tiny speck of time in the big scheme of things. It is just one tiny dot on a line that goes on forever. It is nothing compared to the eternity that we will spend with Jesus. Eternity never ends; it is like the arrow on the ray that keeps going and never stops.  

God’s promise extends to our lives on this earth too. When we reach a fork in the road and we don’t know which way to turn, God directs us. Each of us can say, “[The LORD] guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3). God leads us in the right direction. When we stumble off those paths, he guides us right back to them. And when we walk through the darkest valleys of life’s journey, we need fear no evil because the Lord is with us and comforts us (cf. Psalm 23:4). 

Next time you are feeling the weight of time bringing you down, remember the promise that Jesus spoke: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:1-3). 


Katelyn Raddatz, a sophomore at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minnesota, is a member at St. John, Sparta, Wisconsin. 


 

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Author: Katelyn Raddatz
Volume 105, Number 5
Issue: May 2018

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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We need light

Physically we need sunlight; spiritually we need the light Jesus shines into our lives.

James D. Roecker

Lack of sunlight can be detrimental to your health. A lack of sunlight can lead to developing seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Symptoms of SAD can include mood swings, anxiety, and sleep problems. The average age of onset of SAD is between 18 and 30 years of age.  

The college years just might be when SAD can take hold of a person. An escalating problem can be caused due to winters in states that do not boast copious amounts of light. When the anxiety and stress of college life combines with anxiety caused by a lack of sunlight, the result can be described by the word darkness. Life would be better if this season of darkness would come to an end. Spring is a sign of good things to come—sunlight 

People in Jesus time needed a sign tooJesus said. “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation” (Luke 11:29,30). The sign was Jesus himself. He was the Light. By looking at Jesus and considering his preaching and his works, we see that he continues to be a light burning brightly for all to see. 

However, we do not prefer the brightness of Jesus’ light. The sinfulness inside us all prefers, even favors, the darkness of sin. And the problem squarely lies on our shoulders. In a spiritual sense, our sin-stained eyes do not look to Jesus, the burning lamp, but instead continue groping about in the darkness. “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). Such darkness has eternal consequences far more severe than SAD. 

March 20 marks the first day of spring. It is a sign, a date on the calendar, that gives hope to those desperately needing to get into the sunlight. When we, with the eyes of faith, see Jesus, the true light, we are assured that the darkness of our sin is no more. Jesus’ sacrifice of his very life gives the light of forgiveness and life to the world, to you, and to me.  

Jesus shares with us the importance of his light: “No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you” (Luke 11:33-36). 

College life can be a journey of darkness and sin, with temptation at every turn. Some collegians may not allow the message of salvation and forgiveness to penetrate and dispel the darkness of their souls. May the Lord move them and us to appreciate that God himself, through his Holy Spirt, illumines our souls and preserves the faith in our hearts. 


James Roecker, pastor at Divine Word, Plover, Wisconsin, does campus ministry work at UW–Stevens Point, Stevens Point, Wisconsin.


 

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Author: James D. Roecker
Volume 105, Number 3
Issue: March 2018

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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Our heavenly homecoming

We long for the glory of heaven though we live as sinners in a sinful world.

James D. Roecker

Homecoming is a big deal for college campuses across the country. There is usually a theme associated with a weeklong celebration of school pride. Parades and football games are hallmarks. Alumni are welcomed back to their college campus with open arms. Homecoming can be the perfect opportunity to reconnect to the alma mater and reflect on the good old days.

This past year, UW–Stevens Point celebrated homecoming under the theme “Blast through the Past.” Stevens Point residents were invited to travel through the decades with the Pointer community. Some of the student activities for the week included a 1950s photo scavenger hunt and a trivia night focused on the 1990s. Each weekday event provided the opportunity to reflect on a specific decade of the past along with all its cultural impact and influence.

As one year ends and a new year begins, the church will do some reflecting of its own. Many churches have the tradition in New Year’s Eve services of reading the names of those congregation members who have departed this life to be with Jesus in the past year. Family members may continue to mourn such a loss, yet they have comfort because Jesus has triumphed over death and sin.

John, in Revelation, describes heaven this way: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). The homecoming celebration of heaven that he has won for you and me will be majestic and marvelous. Believers across the ages will be united in the glory of God’s heaven. What an amazing thing to look forward to! What comfort comes to Christians who fix their eyes heavenward toward their heavenly home!

But we have trouble holding on to that vision. So much in this world distracts us: anxiety, grief, loss, and trials. The college experience brings its own distinct challenges and struggles. Really, each season of life is unique and brings different struggles and temptations that lead to fixing our eyes on things or solutions other than God. We find ourselves enslaved by our sin.

None of us can stand confidently before a righteous and holy God with the corruption of sin we have at our core. Because of it, God threatens to bar us from his heavenly home. In humble repentance we fall on our knees at the cross of Christ. His Holy Spirit’s work of faith in our hearts clings to that cross, a source of comfort and confidence. In Christ we have freedom from sin.

Paul encourages the Christians in Galatia this way: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). God, through his Son, has lavished his grace and love on the world. Through faith we receive God’s blessings: forgiveness and new life. Each of us has a line in God’s book of life with our name on it.

Our life’s journey continues so long as God sees fit. We long for the glory of heaven though we live as sinners in a sinful world. Our feelings and frustrations will fluctuate and change with each new day of grace God gives us. We can rejoice in our Redeemer who never changes. We can be confident Christ will go all out for our heavenly homecoming celebration.


James Roecker, pastor at Divine Word, Plover, Wisconsin, does campus ministry work at UW–Stevens Point, Stevens Point, Wisconsin.


 

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Author: James D. Roecker
Volume 105, Number 1
Issue: January 2018

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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Maintaining the faith in a secular college

Secular colleges engulf WELS students in new, even unchristian, ideas—but students shouldn’t be afraid. 

Richard Wilkosz 

Martin Luther went to college to become a lawyer, but that changed. Take note, students and your worried parents: The imminent change of the college experience can be a blessing. 

Suddenly, in just one semester, you already may be rethinking your career path, political views, and more. Young adulthood is tumultuous—a typical undergraduate student switches majors three times. What else could you expect from so much discovery about the world and your place in it? Family and friends may not always understand or approve—Luther’s father fumed when his son left law school for monkhood—but do not focus on a growing distance between you and those who love you and watched you grow up. Focus on the faith that still binds you together.  

Christianity has always appealed to diverse people, starting with the apostles. Simon the Zealot was part of a movement to overthrow the Roman government. Matthew was a Roman employee. Did they agree on earthly issues? Yet they were united by Christ’s heavenly mission. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Earthly differences and changes do not have to send ripples over your unshaking citizenship in that kingdom. 

It’s not a sin to hear someone out who thinks differently. In fact, Peter writes, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). “Everyone” has no exception—those of other faiths, those who deny God, and those without firm beliefs. Using “gentleness and respect” is to first listen—really listen. The skill is difficult to learn but necessary to have.  

Fortunately, you have every chance to practice. Secular colleges exchange as many ideas as they can cram into one place. Participate in the discussions. When listening, you gain valuable new perspectives. When speaking, you have the blessed opportunity to share Jesus. 

Empathy is the key. See it in Paul where he writes, “To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. . . . To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law). . . . I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:20-22). 

Now see how he put it in practice. Paul listened before saying, “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you” (Acts 17:22,23). Paul learned about the Athenians. His message then became personal and compelling enough to convert new followers in a place overflowing with gods and strange beliefs. 

Luther listened as well. He studied the classical philosophers, the Catholic Church of his time, and the Bible itself. Some sources confirmed his faith; others did not. Those new and different voices only helped inform his own personal, compelling message of faith. You can do the same, while at the same time declaring with Luther, “Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.” 


Richard Wilkosz, a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, is a member at Redeemer, Weston, Wisconsin. 


 

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Author: Richard Wilkosz
Volume 104, Number 10
Issue: October 2017

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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God reconciles us to himself

God’s love does not abandon us when we stumble. It persists in calling us to return to him.

James D. Roecker

Sally is a Community Advisor, or CA, at UW–Stevens Point. Her responsibilities are numerous and specific. CAs are responsible for attending training; opening and closing the residence halls; serving as desk receptionist; programming student development and wellness needs of residents; advising floor government; providing information on campus and community resources; serving as a contact and referral source for student concerns; and providing hall security and student conduct observation, intervention, and reporting. Sally has these responsibilities in addition to managing her own set of courses for the semester.

For the first few months of school, everything runs smoothly. But then there is an incident. Sally smells a strong aroma, possibly from a banned substance, coming from her best friend Sharon’s dorm room.

Sally has two options to weigh in her mind. Option one is to ignore the aroma entirely and act like it was never noticed. No confrontation would happen. No feelings would be hurt. No investigating of the aroma would be necessary. But, Sally would be neglecting her duties as CA. Option two is harder. It would involve confronting Sharon about the odd aroma. Things could get ugly rather quickly. Harsh words may be spoken. Their friendship might never be the same again.

Sally chooses option two. It’s not so much that “rules are rules” as it is about warning Sharon about potentially dangerous behavior and keeping the rest of the residents safe from the same kind of behavior.

And so Sally confronts Sharon. Harsh words are said. A fine would be coming Sharon’s way because of Sally. Their relationship is strained. There is no longer peace and harmony between them. The tension feels like a weight when they are in each other’s presence. Sally longs for the day when Sharon will be open to changing her behavior and mending their broken relationship. But for the time being, Sharon is simply not interested in reconciling with Sally.

God’s prophet Hosea could relate to Sally’s situation. Hosea proclaimed God’s harsh message to God’s people, the Israelites. Israel had turned away from God. Destruction and punishment would be coming their way because of their failure to follow the one, true God. As a result, there was no peaceful, harmonious relationship between God and the Israelites.

God had been faithful to his people. “It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love” (Hosea 11:3,4). But in spite of his love, they had turned away from him.

Hosea’s task was to issue strong words of rebuke and warning to his people. He wrote, “Return, Israel, to the LORD your God. Your sins have been your downfall!” (14:1). God’s goal always was to bring them back to his love and forgiveness. If they did not repent, the dire warnings would come to pass. But the Lord still loved them. His warning was a call to turn away from their rebellion against him and to return to his faithful love.

God’s warnings, harsh rebukes, and threats are intended to call us back to him, for us to return to his love. Sally’s task is simply an illustration of God’s call to repentance. God’s love does not abandon us when we stumble. It persists in calling us to return to him, to repent, and to trust in Jesus for our forgiveness. That’s a message for students everywhere. It’s a message for all of us.


James Roecker, pastor at Divine Word, Plover, Wisconsin, does campus ministry work at UW-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, Wisconsin.


 

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Author: James D. Roecker
Volume 104, Number 9
Issue: September 2017

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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Summer on campus

Work continues in campus ministries, even when college students are home for the summer.

James D. Roecker

The summer months in Stevens Point are vastly different from the months when UW–Stevens Point is in session. That makes sense. Ministry to college students does not happen as much without college students around. Some students do stick around Stevens Point for the summer, but most head home. It happens every summer. It can be expected.

For a campus pastor, the beginning of summer brings a good deal of reflection. To help evaluate the prior year, I rely on the students. At our last Bible study of the school year, I hand out a sheet with three columns on it. The columns are: What you liked, What you did not like, and What could be better. The student comments come in handy for setting up goals and plans for the upcoming year of campus ministry. The collegians also suggest specific Bible studies throughout the academic year.

I do my best to implement elements of those suggestions into future Bible studies. Rather than decreeing what I think UW–Stevens Point campus ministry should be or should look like, I defer to our group of faithful collegian officers to make it what they want it to be. Although there may be different officers for each school year, they always seem to set an example for others in our group. A passage from 1 Timothy conveys this remarkably. “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (4:12).

This past year Divine Word in Plover started another ministry location and student center in Stevens Point. The congregation called it The Word. A dedicated student space at The Word allowed WELS collegians to invite their friends to do laundry, study, or just hang out away from campus. Invitations extended to friends also led to our Thursday night Bible study group growing from an average of 15 students to an average of nearly 30! Future plans already are being discussed in the event our gracious God sees fit to double this group of students in the coming year.

This is not to say that challenges and obstacles are nonexistent. The devil still tempts, and our sinful nature does not simply disappear. The father of lies wants nothing more than for collegians—for all of us—to believe that we do not need God and his Word. Too often the devil succeeds and separates collegians from fellowship opportunities with other collegian believers. Our faith connection to Christ brought about by the Holy Spirit’s work in our hearts can be weakened or even lost over time if that connection is not continually being strengthened through the Word.

Summer months allow me to prepare for the upcoming semester of campus ministry. Bible studies get planned and created. Letters are written to collegians and their parents. All of this is sent to every collegian’s home address we have on file. It is a reminder of the opportunities they have while attending UW–Stevens Point to continually feed on the Word, to continually strengthen their faith connection to Christ.

Students come and go until they graduate or transfer. Faces and names may change, but our God never does. The foundation of our faith, found in Christ, binds us together until we are reunited to learn and grow in him.


James Roecker, pastor at Divine Word, Plover, Wisconsin, does campus ministry work at UW–Stevens Point, Stevens Point, Wisconsin.


 

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Author: James D. Roecker
Volume 104, Number 7
Issue: July 2017

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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Support in times of trouble

Depression and anxiety were unexpected, but healthcare, faith, and Christian friends were blessings.

Andi Franklin

Starting college, there were many things that I expected to experience. Some of these included late nights studying, making new friends, and gaining independence.

I also had experiences that were different from those of a typical college student. I didn’t leave my bed for over 36 hours on multiple weekends. I lied to my professors that I overslept when I couldn’t bring myself to attend classes. If I thought about answering a question in class, I would start to shake. I wondered why I was struggling so much while all of my peers seemed to eat, sleep, and attend class with no problem. Five months ago, I learned I was struggling with mental illness and was later diagnosed with anxiety and depression.

When I was first told about this, I was in denial. I was a straight A, highly involved student. How could I have a mental illness if I was defined as successful by society? I later came to accept that mental illness doesn’t discriminate.

But I also learned that many individuals do not understand how debilitating mental illness truly is. Depression is like having weights tied to your limbs and around your neck. At first, they don’t seem very heavy. Eventually, the weights become heavier, and you struggle to stay upright. You can feel yourself hunching over but need to keep walking.

Struggling with mental illness as a college student can lead you to ask many questions. What if I can’t finish my degree? Will my professors understand when I can’t come to class or finish my assignments? Will my friends be supportive when I tell them I can’t handle going out tonight? Thankfully, my friends and professors have been very understanding of my mental illnesses.

Mental illness will never be easy as a full-time student, but being a Christian has led me to ask more difficult questions about dealing with a mental illness.

Growing up, I learned that God doesn’t make mistakes and has a plan for everything.

I was told to pray in times of trouble because God would answer me. But when I was questioning the point of my existence, hearing “just pray” discouraged me. I felt guilty going to church and ended up not going all together. I wondered why God would create me to have a mental illness. I thought that if I reached out for help that others would look down on me for not trusting in God.

What I forgot is that God gives us many blessings, even in times of trouble.

God has given two large blessings to support me as I struggle with mental illness: healthcare providers and the church. It has been five months since I started seeing a counselor and three since I started taking medication for my depression and anxiety. After suffering quietly for almost ten years, I am so thankful to have a support system that consists of people who constantly encourage me in my studies and my faith. You don’t have to be an expert on mental illness to help someone. Asking how you can help is more than enough.

Prayer is powerful, but sometimes you can’t just pray away illnesses. We need to support our friends and neighbors in times of trouble. They have supported me. “Encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).


Andi Franklin, a junior at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, is a member at St. Paul, North Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.


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Author: Andi Franklin
Volume 104, Number 5
Issue: May 2017

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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The encouragement app

When faced with doubt, there’s an app for that. The Lord is with us.

James D. Roecker

Conversations are a part of life. Conversations might be good, great, awkward, terrible, emotional, or routine. We have had them with our inner circle of friends and family, with the people who live in our neighborhood, or with those who live down the hall in the college dorm.

As we think about all those conversations, would we say the majority of our comments could be considered encouragement or criticism? The natural tendency is to remember all the times we have been critical in conversation. The positive and encouraging conversations we have had with people are forgotten. The devil is quick to remind us how terrible we have been to family members, friends, and people we just met at the gas station. His next step is to get us thinking that God will never show us any kindness because of how deep into sin we have gotten ourselves. We doubt God could ever forgive us. All of a sudden the certainty of salvation we have through faith in Jesus and what he has accomplished on the cross is an uncertain thing in our minds.

Satan’s assaults against us cannot stand because of Christ’s conquering victory over the evil one, sin, and death. We have the certainty of a new life of faith through the waters of our baptism. We are encouraged and strengthened by the Word of our God. The psalmist writes, “You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry” (Psalm 10:17). The Lord encourages us by promising to hear us when we call to him in prayer. The Lord encourages us by promising eternal peace in heaven.

But we are not in heaven yet. We have life ahead, and we don’t know what the future may hold. It is frustrating at times not knowing the future—what might come next in life, good or bad. As the troubles and struggles roll in, we might ask ourselves: “Do I have what it takes?”

There may be collegians who struggle with school, who are unsure of their currently declared major. Similar questions arise: “Do I have what it takes to complete a degree in fisheries and water resources, health promotion/wellness, or dietetics?” Lack of focus and motivation could be the culprit behind such feelings. Uncertainty could come because of tough courses or challenging professors. Doubting one’s abilities may stem from trying to balance school, work, and social time. Thinking about the future, about what it means to be an adult with a full-time job after college, can bring some hesitation. The worst critic is most often inside. We question if we have what it takes to get through life on our own.

But encouragement comes from God and his Word: “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’ ” (Jeremiah 29:11).

We receive all the encouragement we will ever need from our perfect Lord who reigns over all things for our good. He is with us every step of this life, encouraging us as we live in view of our heavenly home.


James Roecker, pastor at Divine Word, Plover, Wisconsin, does campus ministry work at UW-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, Wisconsin.


This is the final article in a six-part series on life apps the Bible has given Christians.


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Author: James D. Roecker
Volume 104, Number 3
Issue: March 2017

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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The trust app

What takes years to build, seconds to break, and a miracle to repair? Trust.

James D. Roecker

Imagine a child slowly creeping to the side of a pool. That child’s father is in the pool waiting with open arms and calling for his child to jump. But the little guy is scared of the unknown. He does not know for sure what will happen if he jumps. Father and son make eye contact. The father says, “Trust me.” His son tightly closes his eyes, trusts his father, and jumps into his open arms. After that the child knows for sure that he can trust his father to catch him every time he jumps into the pool. Uncertainty

at the edge of the pool was erased since his father came through and caught him.

Throughout our lives there are numerous scenarios when we feel like that child at the edge of the pool. We can be consumed with worry and fear of the unknown. We can become paralyzed to the point of inaction because we are scared we might pick the wrong path through life.

One of these life scenarios is taking the plunge into the pool called college. The process of selecting the right college can fill anyone’s heart with fear—and that is before you consider where your friends are planning on attending college. Worry winds its way into your mind and heart. “What if I can’t make new friends? Do I really want to take the college plunge by myself?”

It can be easy to focus inward—to focus on how we will handle life’s challenging decisions—and forget the Lord. The book of Proverbs gives us all this inspired reminder: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). Leaning on the Lord and trusting in him eases the burden of challenging decisions, since he already knows the plan for each of

our lives.

The Lord knows each collegian’s path through the rigors of college. He knows the friendships that will be forged. In some cases, those friendships made in college will endure for entire lifetimes.

However, those relationships are not without sin. Trust among friends can take seconds to break. The psalmist David reflected: “Even my close friend, someone

I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me” (Psalm 41:9). Friends can fail us. They can fail to follow through on what they said they would do. At times, our expectations of them do not match what we experience, and trust begins to evaporate. We may have to confront our friends from time to time regarding their failures.

That’s tough, especially since we ourselves are not always trustworthy. We are capable of all kinds of sin by nature. On our own we cannot repair the damage done to our

relationship with God.

But God knew what remedy was needed to restore us to himself. God sent his only Son to repair the relationship. Through Jesus’ death on the cross of Calvary, God himself has become our salvation. Jesus has restored peace, trust, and joy. We trust in God only because of Jesus. We are not afraid. God’s plan is the right plan. Trust him.

James Roecker, pastor at Divine Word, Plover, Wisconsin, does campus ministry work at UW-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

This is the fifth article in a six-part series on life apps the Bible has given Christians.

 


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Author: James D. Roecker
Volume 104, Number 1
Issue: January 2017

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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Rest: Part 4

When you need rest from this harried world, retreat to your Savior in his Word.

James D. Roecker

How much sleep do you need? The National Sleep Foundation recommends that most adults need between seven to nine hours of sleep per night to function at their best. For younger adults (18-25), the recommended sleep range is also seven to nine hours per night. I wonder if their recommendation matches reality.

The reality is that not everyone gets enough sleep. We live in a culture that chronically overworks. We are a generation of exhausted people. And most of the time we realize it is bad for us. Yet we are always on the go, filling our schedules to the maximum. The to-do list seems endless. Rest eludes us.

Rest can also be elusive for college students. Often there is just not enough time for sleep. College schedules get busy rather quickly. The academic year can be rigorous all by itself. But many students participate in intramural sports. Others play on the collegiate-level athletic teams. Some are involved in two or more student organizations. Part-time jobs can be thrown into the mix as well. Study time is important too, but so is time for fun and socializing. All of a sudden something fills every minute of every day. Exhausting! Coffee, really any caffeinated drink, becomes king. The National Sleep Foundation’s recommended seven to nine hours of sleep is just that, a recommendation.

Eventually, the question needs to be asked: “Is this current pace sustainable?” Lack of sleep can lead to distress physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. Maybe sleep deprivation causes you to become a totally different person, a person you might not like as much as your normal, rested self.

But there’s an app for that.

Jesus, as true human, was not immune to exhaustion or getting tired. He also recognized the benefits of withdrawing to solitary places to pray and recharge before returning to his redemptive mission. After some disciples reported John’s beheading to Jesus, we are told this: “When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place” (Matthew 14:13). The crowd followed him. After landing the boat on shore, Jesus had compassion on the crowd, healed the sick that were there, and miraculously fed the large crowd. But then Jesus took time to rest. “After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone” (Matthew 14:23).

Our to-do lists are not going to say: “Be the Savior of the world.” Jesus has already accomplished our salvation through his work as Savior while he lived on this earth. He lived perfectly in our place, suffered the agony of the world’s—including your and my—sins on the cross of Calvary, and rose victoriously from the dead.

So when you need rest from this harried world, retreat to your Savior in his Word. Be refreshed by the living and enduring Word of God. Sleep soundly and securely knowing that your God will never abandon you and will wake you with the morning light if that is his will. Jesus has said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). He keeps his promises and will give you spiritual rest in this life and in your eternal life in heaven.

James Roecker, pastor at Divine Word, Plover, Wisconsin, does campus ministry work at UW-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

This is the fourth article in a six-part series on life apps the Bible has given Christians.


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Author: James D. Roecker
Volume 103, Number 11
Issue: November 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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Application is everything: Part 3

Confession is good for the soul, but not enough. Applying forgiveness to our souls is trusting Jesus has paid the penalty we deserve.

James D. Roecker

Sally comes to church every Sunday. She arrives early to save her favorite spot. She participates in worship, confesses her sins, and pays close attention to the pastor’s message.

Yet Sally always leaves church feeling bad about herself. Sally takes this bad feeling back into her daily life. Through this routine, Sally feels close to God. Feeling bad seems like a good thing for her. The closeness to God she experiences by feeling bad about her sins seems to satisfy her and ultimately makes her feel superior to her friends who do not go to church.

Confession is more involved than just feeling bad about sin. To some, penance quickly comes to mind when discussing confession. Penance involves confessing sins and then doing some act to repair the damage caused by sin. Feeling bad about your sins can be viewed as that “something” we do to overcome sin. Emptying the overflowing sin bucket in confession to God can be a satisfying experience, but it never applies Christ’s forgiveness.

If we view confession as a guilt reliever or a conscience cleanser, all the emphasis is on us. It’s like saying that God and I had a private conversation about sin, so we are good. Sally might come to God and say, “God, I’m sorry I hate Mary. She rubs me the wrong way. I’m sorry, but I’ve confessed this sin to you, God, so we’re good, right? When I tell you my sins, that counts, doesn’t it?” So then, sadly, Sally goes off to class and the dorm thinking that feeling bad makes up for sin.

But it doesn’t. For Sally, the law left her feeling bad about herself. The law does make us feel bad because it shows us just how far we have fallen, just how short we have come to God’s standard of perfection. We confess that we are sinners who deserve God’s punishment.

Confession is the first part. The second part is applying the full and complete forgiveness of sins. Jesus’ blood, not our remorse, cleanses us from sin. None of our efforts, including our effort to amend our sinful life, removes sin. Only God’s grace in Jesus forgives us. Then that forgiveness gives us the power to gladly and freely turn from the sin and live differently because our sins are fully and freely cleansed. The problem may be that we don’t change as dramatically as we think we should. We fail again and again, sometimes falling into the same pet sins.

So we come to church each week not only to confess our sins and feel bad about them but also to rejoice that our sins are forgiven. There is full forgiveness for our sins in Christ. As we live out our Spirit-worked faith, we’ll strive to turn completely away from sin and toward our Savior. “I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.’ And you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32:5). We then live each day as a forgiven child of our heavenly Father.

James Roecker, pastor at Divine Word, Plover, Wisconsin, does campus ministry work at UW-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

This is the third article in a six-part series on life apps the Bible has given Christians.


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Author: James D. Roecker
Volume 103, Number 9
Issue: September 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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Application is everything

Sometimes it’s easier to hold a grudge then to forgive, but we are to forgive others as Christ forgave us.

James D. Roecker

Has there ever been a time in your life when someone wronged you? Have false rumors been spread about you to give you a bad name? Those rumors might have torn down your reputation. Maybe you can think of a few people who have broken your trust. Forgiveness may not be given out easily. Really, it is easier to withhold forgiveness for a while so others feel terrible about what they did to you.

In fact, holding a grudge often seems to be the only option. One of life’s guilty pleasures is fantasizing about what telling that person off looks like. Rehearsal time is set aside to run through all the grievances you have in your arsenal. Resentment can rage until lashing out with an angry text or e-mail. We may even make decisions based on how someone has wronged us.

At times, the “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you” exchange are just words you say, not something you truly feel. Then a relationship you have with someone disintegrates quickly and ends poorly. This sort of thing can happen at the workplace, within families, and even on college campuses.

College courses do not ignore the topic of forgiveness, but the religious and spiritual component is often lacking. UW–Stevens Point student, Emma, shared an experience she had in her Positive Psychology class. An entire section of the course was dedicated to the topic of forgiveness. One assignment was to write a forgiveness letter to someone. Students did not have to give the person the letter. They wrote it and handed it in.

Emma said this about her letter: “I chose to write it to my first roommate from the residence halls. We did not have the same morals or respect for others. It ended poorly when I changed roommates after a semester with her. I often would see her around campus, and we both avoided eye contact and never talked even before I switched rooms. So I wrote the letter, and, after the letter was written, I said a prayer. I knew that I had already been forgiven by God for the way I handled the situation, but it helped me get it out of my head. I stopped feeling weird every time I ran into her.”

Sinful people sin. All of us fall short of God’s standard of perfection. Sin strains all the relationships we have, including our relationship with our heavenly Father. We can even secretly enjoy being overcome by evil. We might not want to ever forget the way people have treated us or especially the deep hurt they caused. At times, we may not be able to forgive ourselves.

However, when we confess our sins, the cross is personal. God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness is given to you. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). His faithfulness brings us forgiveness.

Forgiven people forgive. Jesus lived a perfect life, died for all people, and rose from the dead. He lives so that we will someday live with him eternally. We need to take time to reflect on the forgiveness Jesus has given us and then let our light shine as we live Christlike lives and forgive others.

James Roecker, pastor at Divine Word, Plover, Wisconsin, does campus ministry work at UW-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

This is the second article in a six-part series on life apps that Bible had given Christians.

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Author: James D. Roecker
Volume 103, Number 7
Issue: July 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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Application is everything

The Bible is just as applicable to our lives as it was to those who heard it for the first time.

James D. Roecker

What’s the big deal about the latest and greatest tech gadgets? Well, they’re new, stylish, and user friendly. Upgraded models offer much more than previous models. Smartphones combine numerous devices into one machine. New apps provide countless hours of entertainment.

It wasn’t always the case. Cell phone styles and capabilities were different ten years ago. Tech gadgets did not stay the same. Cell phones got bigger, not thinner. Then touch screens took over. GPS navigation was built in. Internet and e-mail now is a touch away. Smartphones do it all. Think of anything. There’s probably an app for that. Apps can wake you up, show you where to shop, log your exercise and calorie intake, and keep your to-do list. Apps even can supply daily Bible reading plans.

But apps can’t make you get up, control your spending, manage your diet, make you exercise, check things off your to-do list, or read your Bible daily. Application is important and significant. It’s what you do that makes a difference.

Some suggest applying the Bible is not a big deal. They say, “Shouldn’t I just read it?” Others don’t read it at all. They admit, “What I hear in worship is enough for the week.” But what good does hearing and reading the Bible do, if when you’re done, you don’t remember what God has said to you?

Applying the Bible is an ongoing challenge for every Christian, college students included. The schedules of our lives become cluttered with a never-ending to-do list. God’s passages of comfort in his Word might not come to mind easily in the thick of daily temptations and troubles. The father of lies convinces us that God’s Word doesn’t apply to our situations. And if we don’t apply it, the Bible becomes another book on the shelf, a collection of dated manuscripts that appear impractical. Satan wants nothing more than to separate us from God and to persuade us the Bible isn’t useful.

But we know the Bible isn’t just a normal book. The Bible is God’s inspired Word. It’s just as applicable to our lives as it was to those who heard it for the first time. That’s why Saint Paul gave this encouragement: “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9).

The God of peace is with us as we read his Word. The knowledge we glean from Scripture becomes the foundation for applying the Bible’s principles for our lives. God’s Word is solidified in our hearts by studying, memorizing, and meditating on what we have read. It’s how we apply it. The psalmist reminds us that the man who meditates on God’s Word is blessed.

But we are not alone in trying to understand and apply God’s Word to our lives. God given us his Holy Spirit to guides us in all truth. He’s our app. He moves us to take the words of James to heart: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22). Application of God’s Word in our lives makes all the difference.

James Roecker, pastor at Divine Word, Plover, Wisconsin, does campus ministry work at UW–Stevens Point, Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

This is the first article in a six-part series on life apps the Bible has given Christians.

 

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Author: James D. Roecker
Volume 103, Number 5
Issue: May 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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“What is truth?”

Pilate’s age-old question still rings true today. But God’s answer also remains the same.

Glenn L. Schwanke

“What is truth?”

The words rip us back in time to very early on Good Friday morning at the residence of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, where Jesus had been led like a lamb to the slaughter by the Jewish leaders and their temple guards. They needed Pilate’s permission for the death sentence against Jesus.

You might expect their request would come after a thorough, legal review of the case against Christ. But none came. Rather there were only feeble attempts to avoid handling the case and two brief exchanges between Pilate and Jesus.

The first of those exchanges led to three of the most infamous words ever spoken.

‘You are a king then?’ Pilate asked.

‘You say that I’m a king,’ Jesus replied. ‘I was born for this, and I have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.’

‘What is truth?’ said Pilate (John 18:37,38 HCSB used throughout).

We shudder at those three words, because in our hearts, we hear the mockery in Pilate’s voice. And we weep at what follows. Jesus—mocked. Jesus—scourged. Jesus—sentenced. Jesus—crucified. And Pilate? He does nothing but wash his hands of the affair (Matthew 27:24).

“What is truth?” When I hear those words, I think of Pontius Pilate. But I also think of millennials, a generation whose worldview has been dramatically shaped by television, movies, computers, tablets, and smartphones; Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter; Siri, Cortana, and “OK Google.” A generation always connected with an overwhelming flood of information that is just a voice command or a few keystrokes away.

Unfortunately, far too much of that information stream is little more than snake oil, a slick but poisonous repackaging of Pilate’s snide comment, “What is truth?” This is particularly true when it comes to issues of morality or matters spiritual and questions about life, death, and eternity.

Is there absolute truth? The skepticism of our modern age boldly shouts, “Absolutely not!”

Is Jesus the only Savior, the only way to eternal life? How are millennials expected to believe that when a 2015 Barna Group study found that only 48% of millennials believe that Jesus was God! On the other hand, 56% of millennials believe Jesus committed sins while he was on earth. Hardly the makings of a Messiah. So it’s not at all surprising when that same Barna study concludes, “Millennials are less likely to believe that Jesus is the path to heaven than are other generations.” As Barna Group President David Kinnamen comments, “Jesus is a friend of sinners, but many millennials are ‘unfriending’ him at a time when their lives are being shaped and their trajectories set toward the future.”

“What is truth?” I think of the college students I serve in Campus Ministry. I see no sneer on their face. I detect no mockery in their tone. What I do see are young Christians who are constantly being inundated by the worldview around us. I do hear doubt, and I do see confusion written on their faces. I think, “So much has changed since I was their age!”

But, thank God, the answer remains ever the same. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

“This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’—and I am the worst of them” (1 Timothy 1:15).

Glenn Schwanke, pastor at Peace, Houghton, Michigan, serves as campus pastor at Michigan Technological University.

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Author: Glenn L. Schwanke
Volume 103, Number 3
Issue: March 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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Many hands make light work!

Students involved in campus ministry are eager to serve. Give them an opportunity!

Glenn L. Schwanke

Viele Hände macht bald am Ende!” The words come gushing out from the bottom of my heart. Well, it might be more precise to say they flow from my lower back, which is even more excited that this job is finished. And what job would that be? Mid-winter roof snow-shoveling in the Copper Country.

Roof snow-shoveling? Yes, we live in an area where 200 to 250 inches of snow per winter are the norm. Though that snow comes down all white and fluffy, it piles up. On roofs too. And the weight of three to four feet of compacted snow on a roof can rival parking a pick-up truck up there. (I don’t advise it.) If the snow isn’t removed, roofs collapse. That’s why Yoopers shovel off their roofs every winter—maybe more than once.

I remember absolutely no mention of roof snow-shoveling in the call documentation I received when I moved here from Indiana. However, I vividly remember my state of shock when that first roof shoveling work day was scheduled. The volunteers were to start at 9:30 a.m. on a Saturday. I walked over to the chapel before 8:30. I didn’t want anyone to see my first timid steps up onto the corner of our chapel’s roof—covered in three feet of snow. Below the snow there was ice. Somewhere lost under that were the shingles. I slipped and shuffled until I collapsed into the snow, looked up to heaven, and said, “This I can’t do, Lord!” But with a little practice, by the end of that work day, I started to get my “snow-roof” legs. It wasn’t so bad after all.

Since then, however, the project has been getting far, far easier! Why? Our campus ministry group is growing. Ten to 15 eager college students, combined with members from our congregation, make short work of shoveling off our chapel’s roof. When the chapel’s finished, they head over to the parsonage. In less than an hour, that’s done too. All the while the pastor remains on terra firma, snowblowing a path to the doors so we can still get inside the buildings. As the workers finish and climb back down the ladder, then comes the victory shout, “Viele Hände macht bald am Ende!” It’s time for chili and hot chocolate.

Why share the story? To make a very simple point. Students involved in campus ministry are eager to serve. Give them an opportunity! The inspired writer observed, “Two are better than one. . . . If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9,10 HCSB).

Maybe you don’t need a roof shoveled, but are there older folks in the congregation who could use some help with painting, cleaning, splitting wood, or raking leaves? Are there shut-ins whose day would be brightened by students who drop by with some fresh-baked cookies? Could students help with babysitting or tutoring grade school children or mentoring high school youth? What about ushering or playing organ or piano for worship? Singing a solo or in the choir? Teaching in Sunday school, helping with vacation Bible school, or coordinating a soccer camp for community outreach?

I suspect most of our churches have a “round-to-it” list that could use some volunteers. You’ll find campus ministry students are eager to help. They take our Lord’s Word seriously. “Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10 HCSB).

Glenn Schwanke, pastor at Peace, Houghton, Michigan, serves as campus pastor at Michigan Technological University.

 

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Author: Glenn L. Schwanke
Volume 103, Number 1
Issue: January 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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Teen Talk: My life as a child of divorce

Divorce affects entire families. How can we support and encourage those struggling with the long-lasting effects?

I am a product of divorce. As a child, it defined me. My parents were divorced—so of course I must be a troubled child. At least that’s how everyone made me feel.

Already as a first grader, I remember being treated differently than other students. So I acted naughty. Maybe I played into the assumptions.

As school continued, I never talked about my parents and their divorce. I would get embarrassed when we would talk about the Sixth Commandment in school—“You shall not commit adultery.” “Divorce means adultery” would click in my head. I’d sit there and not say anything.

When I was in the sixth grade, my mom got married again. He seemed like a great guy. But later, we found out he was a struggling drug addict. I worried about my mom getting another divorce. I wondered if my mom would go to heaven. I look back and wonder why no one attempted to make it clear to me that I was okay, that my sister was okay, that my mom was okay. This man ultimately chose drug addiction over us, abandoning his marital duties. He deserted us. I avoided ever talking about my family.

When the Sixth Commandment came around in class again, I remember not wanting to go to school . . . but I went. No one clarified anything for me or comforted me. Maybe they didn’t know I was struggling with such things, and maybe I should have asked. But what 12-year-old is going to raise her hand and say, “Is my mom’s divorce okay?”

I went to a Lutheran high school. Not many people there had divorced or separated parents. I had a serious boyfriend for about two years, who ultimately broke up with me because my parents were divorced. He said he “just couldn’t deal with it and felt like he could never marry me.” Couldn’t marry me? We were just kids in high school! But it showed me again how divorced persons are perceived. I got the feeling I was somehow extra sinful because my parents were divorced.

Why is divorce looked at as worse than other sins? One sort of sinner is not better than another. People who get divorced can be forgiven. Our focus shouldn’t be on the stigma of certain sins, but on repentance and faith. Many people struggle with many challenges and sins. People who are judged for their circumstances can be turned off by such judgment.

I’m not saying to accept people in their sins. Absolutely not. But we need to show patience and understanding. Both law and gospel need to be applied. Struggling sinners are forgiven because Jesus died for them.

If you don’t know the story behind someone’s situation, don’t make assumptions. Don’t assume everyone who is divorced came to that position by pursuing sin. Don’t assume you know someone’s heart. Approach people with support, with loving words. That could be all they need to begin healing.

My point is not to complain about how challenging my childhood was or how everyone around me handled things wrong. That is not the case. I am writing this to raise awareness of things that could be happening if we are open to helping one another. Life is hard; we are sinful people. What is most important—in fact, the only thing of ultimate importance—is what Christ did for us. We have a gracious God who forgives all sins. Let’s seek to help and forgive each other, rather than making life more difficult for those who’ve been affected by hurtful sins.

Because of the personal nature of this article, the author’s name has been withheld.

 

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Author: Withheld
Volume 102, Number 12
Issue: December 2015

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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Are we a welcoming church?

If we want to be a welcoming church, we dare not ignore or try to explain away sin but instead answer tough questions with gentleness and respect.

Glenn L. Schwanke

I stood at the table Michigan Tech had assigned us for the Community Expo, an event held at the start of the school year so that local businesses, services, churches, and student organizations could make contact with the students. Some students approached our table with a bag, just in case we were giving away something good. Others stepped forward cautiously, with questions written all over their faces. One young lady, however, approached with clipboard in hand as if on a mission.

“Rita” (not her real name) spent a few seconds sizing up our table banner that identified us as “Peace Ev. Lutheran Church, Wisconsin Synod.” She glanced at the “Lutheran Collegian” materials on the table. She noticed the stack of Bibles. Then she looked at me, with her pen poised over her clipboard, as she asked, “Is your church a welcoming church?”

I responded, “I’d like to think we are! Our doors are open to everyone. When you visit us for worship, you will be greeted warmly at the door. Members or students in our Campus Ministry will be happy to help you follow along with the worship. And after every worship service, we have fellowship with snacks and beverages. That gives us more of a chance to get to know you.”

“But,” I added, “I’m guessing that’s not how you are using the word welcoming. Would you please tell me how you are using the term?”

Rita responded, “I represent the Michigan Tech Center for Diversity and Inclusion. And I’m doing a survey to find out which churches in our area are welcoming to the LGBT (Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender) community.”

“So you’re asking me where our church stands on homosexuality? Do we view it as a sin? Ultimately, this isn’t about our individual views or opinions. But,” as I pointed to the stack of Bibles, “our teaching and practice are guided solely by God’s Word. And God’s Word is plain on the matter. Homosexuality is called a sin by the One who made us.

“Still, our doors are wide open to the LGBT community, just as our doors are wide open to any sinner who crosses the threshold, no matter the sin. When Jesus died, he died and paid for all sins.”

In light of this summer’s Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, I anticipate more questions and possibly even confrontations over our church’s stance on homosexuality. When that happens, will we be ready? “Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. However, do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15, 16 HCSB). Will we be careful to be the kind of “welcoming” church our Savior wants? You see, Christ’s enemies once leveled this charge against him: “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them!” (Luke 15:2 HCSB). But even as he welcomed them, Jesus didn’t try to explain away their sin. Rather he said, “The healthy don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31,32 HCSB).

If we want to be a welcoming church, we dare not ignore or try to explain away sin, for then there is no need for repentance or for the forgiveness our Savior so graciously gives. At the same time, our challenge will be to answer tough questions with “gentleness and respect.”

Glenn Schwanke, pastor at Peace, Houghton, Michigan, serves as campus pastor at Michigan Technological University.

 

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Author: Glenn L. Schwanke
Volume 102, Number 11
Issue: November 2015

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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There’s no app for that

Campus ministries rely on simpler technologies to give us the names of WELS students attending the colleges we serve.

Glenn L. Schwanke

It’s an exciting time of year. The sleepy little town of Houghton, Michigan, which boasts some 6,500 residents, is waking up from another summer slumber. The fall semester at Michigan Technological University is starting. That means more than seven thousand students are back in town for classes.

This time of year, one of the challenges for our campus ministry is the same one faced by some 375 Wisconsin Synod congregations with campus ministry opportunities. How do we identify the WELS students attending college here so that we can invite them to join us for worship, Bible studies, and fellowship activities? Contacting these young men and women at the start of the school year is critical! Otherwise students can be swallowed up by the hectic nature of their school schedule. Bad habits can get started, and time in God’s Word and worship may be pushed off to the side.

So what do we do? Like many campus ministries, we’ll participate in orientation events tailored for first-year students. But when those 1,500 first-years file by our table—more than a few somewhat dazed by information overload—how can we make sure that not a single WELS student passes by without realizing we’re here to serve them with God’s Word?

I have an idea! We need an app for that. We can model it on the “Merlin Bird Photo ID.” This software is currently under development by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in collaboration with Visipedia. Its purpose is to help casual birdwatchers tell the difference between a pileated woodpecker and a ruby-throated hummingbird. To use the software, you take a picture of the bird; load the picture onto your computer; draw a box around your little feathered friend; click on the bird’s beak, eyes and tail; then identify where and when you saw the bird. Upload this data to the website and, voila, within seconds you’ll get back a list of the best matches, including recordings of the sounds and songs the little birdie makes.

We need an app like that! Then when those first-year students pass by our table during orientation week, members of our ministry team can click a picture of each student. Other helpers can quickly transfer that data to notebook computers; put a box around the head of each student’s picture; click on the beak (nose), eyes, and mouth; and upload the data to the “WELS Campus Ministry Student ID App.” Ta da! In seconds we’ll know the student’s name and address.

Alas, there’s no app for that.

So our WELS campus ministries rely on simpler technologies to give us the names of WELS students attending the colleges we serve. Pastors, teachers, family members, and caring friends can forward the names of students to WELS Campus Ministry by surfing to www.wels.net and clicking on the “sign up with campus ministries” link. Or, they can fill in and return the yellow cards that our congregations receive each year in the packet of materials from WELS Campus Ministry.

Why bother? Because every day, young Christians on secular campuses are wading through a quagmire of temptations, many that these young people never faced when they still lived at home. Our Lord himself tells us what these young people need to stand strong in the faith: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word” (Psalm 119:9 ESV).

Please help us! Send in those names. You are our app for that.

Glenn Schwanke, pastor at Peace, Houghton, Michigan, serves as a campus pastor at Michigan Technological University.

 

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Author:
Volume 101, Number 11
Issue: November 2014

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

 

Empty Nesters

College graduation causes empty-nest syndrome for hundreds of WELS campus pastors around the country.

Glenn L. Schwanke

It’s summer. Everything is settling down after college graduation. My wife and I are empty nesters again. We saw Rachel off to further her graduate studies at Virginia Tech. Calvin packed up his van and headed down the road for his new job in Tennessee. Another Rachel plans on pursuing graduate studies in Illinois. Jon and Ashley are off to the Twin Cities, where Jon starts his new job as “a project engineer designing hardware setups that will run software to monitor the power grid in various countries.” Please note: It’s countries not counties. I sure hope he gets it right. There are quite a few more who are leaving our nest, but I just don’t have space to list them all.

For more than 18 years now, graduation has caused my wife and me to ride the same roller coaster of emotions: proud, thrilled, and yet sad to see our nest emptied. Exactly how many have left through the years? I’ve lost count. It must be in the hundreds.

What? So many? How is this possible? I suppose by now it is time I make clear what you have probably already guessed. The young men and women who leave our nest each year are not our biological sons and daughters. They are your sons and daughters, your grandsons and granddaughters. You have entrusted them to us through WELS Campus Ministry. But we develop a close relationship with so many of these fine young Christians. Remember that Paul called Timothy “my true son in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2). That’s how we feel about the young men and women who spend four, five, or sometimes even six or seven years with us here in Houghton.

We watch them grow and mature. We rejoice to see them “fan into flame” the gift of God that has been given to them by Baptism and then nurtured through Word and sacrament over the years (2 Timothy 1:6). We cry with them when their hearts are broken. We laugh with them when they are happy (Romans 12:15). We celebrate with them when they walk on commencement day, hear their names read, and proudly grasp their diplomas.

Then we send them out into the world with our prayers, hugs, and also a few tears. The good-byes aren’t always so easy.

Not that the good-byes come easy for the other 384 campus pastors in our Wisconsin Synod either! Did you know that we have a full-time campus ministry at Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel at UW–Madison? We have part-time-plus campus ministries here in Houghton and at Point of Grace in Milwaukee, True North in Minneapolis, the Rising Son Campus Ministry in Oshkosh, and the Beacon Lutheran Student Center in Mankato. We have campus ministries as far away as the Light of the World Campus Ministry in Fairbanks, Alaska, and even a few in Canada. And we all share a common goal.

Just what is that goal? Nurturing sons and daughters in the faith. Preparing them for the day when they will leave the nest. Sending them out with the prayer once offered by Paul: “For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church” (1 Corinthians 4:17).

We pray you will welcome our “adopted children” when they come. We pray you will be blessed by them, as we have been.

Glenn Schwanke, pastor at Peace, Houghton, Michigan, serves as campus pastor at Michigan Technological University.

Is your son or daughter going to college this fall? Campus Ministry will send Forward in Christ magazine, Meditations, and other helpful materials to students for free. Register at www.wels.net.

SUBMIT YOUR STORY

Do you have a manuscript, idea, or story from your own life you’d like to share for use in Forward in Christ or on wels.net? Use our online form to share it to our editorial office for consideration.

SUBSCRIBE TO FORWARD IN CHRIST

Get inspirational stories, spiritual help, and synod news from  Forward in Christ every month. Print and digital subscriptions are available from Northwestern Publishing House.

 

Author: Glenn L. Schwanke
Volume 102, Number 7
Issue: July 2015

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us