Leadership Thoughts From...
Rev. Daniel May
God loves us because God IS love! I Corinthians presents the triad of “FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE” reminding us that love is the greatest of these three. Faith and hope are for this life, but love is forever. During Advent we celebrate God’s love in the promised Savior and that love is permanent – that love is God – that love is the only saving love! This greatest of all gifts is unmatched by anything else! During this Advent season take time to rejoice in it in your family and around your kitchen table. As you come in worship and see the baptismal font you know this gift touched your life personally and each time we come to the communion table God puts into our hearts and mouths what only He could and would give! The promises of the Old Testament are loving promises God has made to you and me. The promises of the Messiah are all about His grace and forgiveness and our salvation. The promise is completed with the sacrifice on the cross as our Savior uttered, “It is finished.” This is God’s love for you – indeed God is love!
Outreach & Evangelism
Rev. Geoff Robinson
The Holy Spirit sanctifies us so that we are renewed in our spirit, will, attitude and desires. The Holy Spirit enables us to rise above our natural inclinations. The natural inclinations that we all have are inclinations of selfishness and self-centeredness. Godly stewardship is the opposite of selfishness and self-centeredness. The desire to serve God and our neighbor above ourselves is enabled in Christians as the Holy Spirit through the Word continues to bring about the desire to put others and their needs above oneself. The motivation for godly stewardship is a grateful response spurred on by the knowledge and understanding of what God has done for you. Jesus Christ our Savior gave His all in serving all sinners. Yes, He gave His all in serving you and me. Jesus was born under the Law, lived under the Law of God perfectly and died in obedience to that Law of God so that He might completely pay the price of your sins and give to you forgiveness of your sins and life everlasting. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to you to create faith in your hearts through the Gospel and to change you so that you are released from being a slave to self-centeredness. So how do we best serve God and our neighbors above ourselves? Well, certainly we serve those whom we know in our local congregation, in our neighborhoods and in our families. But could there sometimes be a bit of selfishness in what we do? More and more LCMS congregations are serving only locally or supporting only those missions that they determine are valuable to them. Serving others through financially supporting districts and synod is falling by the wayside. Could this be due to a lack of properly motivated stewardship? This is perhaps the result of thinking that LCMS leadership has not always handled mission dollars judiciously or it might be due to the LCMS leadership supporting some effort that you disagree with. Nevertheless, the leadership of the LCMS has been placed in their positions of oversight by God’s direction. Realize that God is blessing us at this time with an economic boon in our country. Praise God that unemployment is low and job opportunities are good. Praise God that by God’s grace there are many areas of opportunity to serve God and our neighbor above ourselves. For example there are at least twenty foreign countries who have asked the LCMS to send them theological educators. But the educators haven’t been sent due to lack of resources. Remember that we Christians live in community. Our vision isn’t simply focused on the local or only far away but on the whole “Una Sancta” that is the whole Christian Church. God grant us the determination that since we are all through faith in Christ part of the catholic (universal) Christian Church our stewardship of talent and treasure be offered up to God and all of our neighbors. Not just a select few. Rev. Geoffrey L. Robinson
Mr. Ron Bleke
We have received inquiries from employers about the need to report the cost of the CHP on Form W-2 and sending Form 1095-B: Proof of Minimum Essential Coverage for the 2017 year. Our legal department confirmed that the exemption from reporting the cost of health coverage for plans like the CHP remains in effect. This relief continues to apply until further notice and the IRS indicated that any change in the relief will apply prospectively only and will not apply to any calendar year beginning within six months of the date of the notice of change. As a result, employers in self-funded plans not subject to COBRA (e.g. the CHP) are not required to report the cost of coverage on their W-2s. Regarding Form 1095-B: Proof of Minimum Essential Coverage, as long as nothing changes between today and the end of January, CPS will once again mail these forms to CHP members. Current rules state they need to be distributed by January 31, 2018 and CPS will comply and distribute in accordance with these rules. Note: Large employers with 50 or more full time equivalents (FTE’s) subject to the ACA Large Employer Shared Responsibility Mandate will be required to complete and mail the 1095-C (proof of coverage offer and affordability). CPS will continue to provide guidance to these large employers, but the large employer must complete these reports.
Dr. Jon Mielke
Years back, I knew of a person who actually indicated that he would take a stance on not taking a stance. I guess it is somewhat like deciding not to decide on something. Hearing it the first time, my reaction was “say what?” I really had to think about that response a bit and still ponder about it to this day. What does one accomplish when their stance is not a stance? Yet, many people do have difficulty making a decision. By acting and doing in this manner, decisions and actions are not done based on what is the best thing to do for oneself and others. In many instances, people who think and behave in such fashion usually accept whatever results prevail. Thank goodness our heavenly Father acted on our behalf and did not leave our eternal path in our hands. Thank goodness He acted on our behalf. Thank goodness our Lord Jesus obeyed the will of His Father and stated, “Yet not my will, but yours be done.” Our Father chose to redeem us through His One and only Son. John so beautifully records, “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:1-4). Advent is now here. That wonderful time where Christians gather to worship their Lord and King in song and Word. We prepare our hearts for Christmas – preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus. In that celebration, we know the ending. Acting and doing as True Man and True God, our Lord and Savior took upon Himself the shame of the cross so that all believers in Him are assured of life eternal. With joyous hearts and voices during this Advent time, we boldly sing: Come, Thou long expected Jesus, Born to set Thy people free; From our fears and sins release us, Now Thy gracious kingdom bring. Israel’s strength and consolation, Hope of all the earth Thou art, Dear desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart. What a great time it is to be in worship with other believers. What a blessing it is to be in classrooms, helping children and young adults each day to celebrate the most significant reason for the season – Jesus. What a blessing it is to have that hope of life now and life forever because of what Jesus did you and me. Advent – a most glorious time of the year!
Rev. Phillip Krupski
We pray to the Lord, asking Him to bless our lives with the outflow of His grace. It all centers in what He has given us in His Son Jesus. From that flows all the other things that enrich our daily experience. So we have prayed for our economy. If you have invested in the stock market, you may very well have had huge gains during the past years. You talk with your tax advisor who advises that if you sell that stock, you will have a big tax bill to pay on the capital gains. It has now become a sizable asset that you will never be “able” to use. What do you do? You could consider a Charitable Gift Annuity with the LCMS Foundation. You “gift” the asset to an LCMS ministry of your choice, such as the Indiana District, your congregation, a seminary, Worship for Shut-Ins, etc. The ministry will pay no tax on the gift. You will receive a charitable deduction for a portion of the gift. And the gift will produce a guaranteed annual income payout to you for life. When the Lord calls you home, the ministry will benefit. As we think about outreach and mission, we can contemplate the gifts of the Lord and put them to use in support of ministry, that generations after us will come to know Jesus for their salvation. If I can help you joyfully manage the Lord’s gifts, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-840-3202.
Mr. Steve Strauch
Indiana District LCMS-Board of Directors Dear Board of Directors, Many of you are aware that LCEF has been going through many changes in the last year. These changes will continue for the next couple years. The primary changes are developing three regions, West, Central and East. These regions will oversee the LCEF programs in their respective areas. The primary goal is to bring more relevant assistance to the ministries within the regions. One size does not fit all, and the need to have a better resource model for all ministries to pull from is critical. LCEF has identified and selected me to lead the West Regional. I have accepted the position and have been making the transition to California for the past month. My office is in Orange County California. Alex and Morgan are enrolled in St. John’s Lutheran School in Orange California. We have purchased a house in Anaheim Hills California and our current home in Lafayette Indiana is scheduled to close on September 29. Lots of changes in a relatively short timeframe. Please keep us in your prayers. What happens to the LCEF Indiana District Program? Currently, I have been traveling back and forth between Indiana and California. I have connected with many congregations that are in the process of loans or future loans to let them know the change. I have brought over individuals from LCEF National, so there is no disconnect. Also, I have introduced Vanda Toner to a few ministries in Indiana. Vanda is the LCEF District Vice President for Northern Illinois District. During this transition, the Indiana District will post the position. I have had many qualified individuals inquire about the position. With Gods help, the LCEF program in Indiana will be in competent hands. The timeline appears to be 60 days. In the meantime, I will filter calls and quarterback the program to the right people. I am very grateful for the time I have spent in the Indiana District. It always amazes me when I look back and see the path God has put me on. Seven years have passed very quickly. I was very happy in the Indiana District. I was not seeking to leave. President May knows this as does the Executives in the District. After many months and lots of prayers, it became clear that God was calling me to this new position. For many of you, our paths will cross many times again. Blessings, Steve Strauch Regional Vice President – West Region Lutheran Church Extension Fund 26522 La Alameda, Ste 280 Mission Viejo, CA 26522