Pastor Brooks Pastor John Brooks

People of God!

This month I share with you some thoughts that are very important and I pray you will read and take to heart and even share with others. I want to talk to you about commitment.

But before I do, we have now entered the Holiday Season and I invite you to come join in our Thanksgiving Worship on Wednesday, November 22nd, at 7:30 pm.

Also, if you are one of my new Prayer Partners, you may be signed up for a morning with me and our Vicar this month. Please check the calendar included in this Newsletter and watch the weekly bulletins for reminders!

"Commitment" is defined as "the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc." Synonyms would include dedication, devotion, allegiance, loyalty, faithfulness.
What are you committed to?
What people, or things in your life are you committed to?

If you are married, you are or should be wholly committed to your spouse or your children, your family.

If you are working you should be committed to doing the best you can in your job.

If you are in school you are or should be committed to doing the best you can in your classes and what you are learning.

Parents and their children are committed to participation in school and club sports and other extra-curricular activities that help develop and encourage our children to do their best.

As a Christian, you are or should be committed to the Lord our God, first. In His Word, the Bible, Jesus tells us to “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." DO YOU? DO I? DO WE love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind?

Is Jesus truly FIRST and FOREMOST in our love, our life, our daily and weekly schedules, our activities, and our finances? Do we really LOVE HIM more than anyone or anything else in our lives? Are we COMMITTED to our God more than anyone or anything else?

If we really loved Him and were committed to Him we would strive to be in His House, His Church, almost every Sunday to worship Him, to thank and praise Him, to be fed through His Word and Sacraments, to enjoy the fellowship we have with the rest of our congregational family.

If we really loved Him and were committed to Him we would honor Him in our weekly financial offerings with a planned and consistent offer to Him and His Church. This means that we would plan to commit a portion, a percentage, of our income to the Lord in our offering whenever our pay periods fall during the month. And our offering should honor Him. It would come from the top of our financial commitments and not from the left overs. It would be a thank offering to Him for all His abundant blessings He gives us. We would also make up our offerings for the Sundays we couldn't be in worship for whatever reason. Do you or I do this?

If we really loved Him and were committed to Him we would use the skills, talents, abilities, and time He has blessed us with to serve Him and His people somewhere, somehow in the ministries of our congregational family. There are, what I call, "short burst" and "longer commitments" in serving at Church. A short burst example could include being a Greeter, a Pastor's Prayer Partner, an Acolyte, serving in the Nursery, providing refreshments between services, serving on the Media team, helping with the Harvest Dinner, and more. Short burst serving is anything we can plug into with a short term time commitment. A longer time commitment example of serving could include being a Sunday School or Midweek School teacher, singing in the Choir, serving on a Ministry Board or Committee, being a Quilter. There are many ways we can all serve God and His people here at St. James if we are willing to do so ... and being "willing" is the key, isn't it?

And Parents, I especially talk to you now. I am a parent of five now adult children, and grandparent of 13. We are blessed to have many families with children and young people here at St. James. What is the most important example, legacy, we are passing onto our children? Think about it. What is most important to you or I will be modeled by us in so many ways through the days and weeks and months of our lives. Our children watch, they listen, they follow us. They LEARN from us and our example what should be most important in our lives -- what we love most -- what we are committed to most.

Dads, Moms, do you strive to be a godly example in your home as your children watch and listen and learn from you? In Deuteronomy 6:6-7 the Lord says: And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." And in the New Testament book of Ephesians 6:4 we are told to bring our children "up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."

What is most important to you Dad, Mom? Is it seeing your son or daughter excel in a sport at school or other activity, or building a faith foundation in their heart and mind that will be strong and able to withstand the temptations and godless environment all around them? Do you want to see your son or daughter in heaven someday? That is a very blunt question, I know, but it is a vital one to ask. If we, as parents, elevate sports participation or any other activity on Wednesday evenings or Sunday mornings above Midweek School, Confirmation instruction, and Sunday worship, what are we teaching our children? We are teaching them that God is not first, that He comes second, or third, or whatever... They will, and do, follow our example. Are we teaching them and mirroring to them that we are to be COMMITTED to the Lord first above all things, that we are to LOVE Him first above all things, or that He is not as important as participation in school or club sports?

Please consider this, parents. Some of our children and youth are not participating in Midweek or Confirmation or High School instruction and activities consistently or at all. Some are not in their Father's House on Sunday mornings as they should be and need to be. Am I saying that our sons and daughters should not participate in school and club sports or other extra-curricular activities? Absolutely not! Our five children were all active in school and club sports, year round. Some were in drama and choral activities. Deb and I worked hard to find balance and to set priorities in all of this. It wasn't easy. I very much understand the challenges some of you face. We talked personally with their coaches and explained our commitment to church activities. We picked our kids up early from practices to be at Wednesday evening church instruction. They were expected to be in worship with us on Sundays and they were expected to participate in Youth activities. And they did, without arguing or whining, because we tried to set an example to them all during their growing up as to what we were committed to first, and what was and is most important.

Parents, I am asking you is this: What is most important? Where is your commitment? What do you love most? And what are you passing onto your dear children? Do you want to see your son or daughter in heaven someday? What are they learning from you that will pattern their life on as they grow and mature into adulthood and someday become parents themselves? What will they be most committed to? What will they love most? Will it be the Lord, our God, our Savior, Who is our life?

It's not easy for any of us to be a Christian, one of God's people, in our world today. There are so very many things that seek to pull us away from God and distract us. It's not easy for any of us to be wholly committed to the Lord our God, to love Him first, to serve Him and to raise the children He has blessed us with in the faith. But our God is faithful! If we ask Him for help to make Him our first priority in our lives, everything else will fall into place. And we will find lasting joy, peace, contentment!

May you continually seek the Lord who loves you, who gave His very life for you, who offers you the priceless gift of forgiveness and eternal life. May you be wholly committed to Him and love Him first in your heart and mind. And may we pass onto our children this love and commitment to the Lord our God that they will also love and serve Him along with us and alongside us. Then we can all rejoice together in heaven someday!

God Bless You!

  ~ Pastor Brooks