Welcome to Mt. Olive's Online Newsletter! This site serves to herald the activities and day-to-day happenings at Mt. Olive, as well as provide resources for continued learning and community awareness. Links on the right point to various groups that operate at Mt. Olive as well as points of interest and additional resources. The space below contains articles and information from the newsletter. A up-to-date church calendar is always at the bottom of the page. Thanks for visiting and please let us know what you think!

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Confessions of a Timid Evangelist

By Scott Snow
Taken from The Lutheran Witness

0108lifelinestory1.jpgThere were more than a few occasions . . . when I would stand on the steps of a home . . . and secretly, quietly hope no one would be home, or that no one would answer the door.

I confess I started my journey as a witness for Jesus in a much more timid way than you might expect.

As a young boy, my family moved fairly often. We were always active members of local LCMS congregations, and while it must have taken place, I have no lasting impression of being encouraged to share my faith. I simply don’t remember that it was explained to me how, where, and when I might be able to witness.

As the years passed, and especially as I began my training for full-time church work, I was convinced that sharing the Christian faith was the most important task of the church and individual Christians. But I still didn’t know how to do it.

I took the one evangelism course the seminary offered when I was there, and I was very involved in preparing and training evangelism callers while I was on my vicarage. But even with this background, truth be told, there were more than a few occasions—on vicarage and even in the first parish I served—when I would stand on the steps of a home, having knocked on someone’s front door, and secretly, quietly hope no one would be home, or that no one would answer the door.

As I look back, I confess that I was nervous and afraid. What if I couldn’t remember the outline I had so carefully memorized? What if there were questions I couldn’t answer or, heaven forbid, if either my message or I were rejected?

But I remained convinced that Jesus was calling me—Jesus is calling all His children—to share Him with a world lost in sin. So in spite of my apprehension and timidity, I didn’t stop praying, going, and trying to tell others about Jesus, the only Savior of the world.

0108lifelinestory2.jpgI’m delighted to tell you now that my faith-sharing journey is much different. I can’t point to one incident, one moment when “everything changed” and I lost my timidity, but gradually it has changed. Now I see witness opportunities not as fearful occasions but as Spirit-led moments to grow in relationship with others who also need to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. I can honestly say I look forward to the daily opportunities God gives me to share words of Christian encouragement and Gospel proclamation.

I have come to realize that as important and helpful as they are, it isn’t my theological training or my calling to be a pastor that gives me the ability to share my faith. Rather, as I think about sharing faith in Jesus, two things have become most helpful and important for me.

First, I am convinced of the love of God in Christ for me. Through faith I am certain that I am a precious, redeemed, blood-bought child of God, and I can’t help but share “what I have seen and heard.” Second, a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders when I realize that it is not my “job” to convert (or “evangelize circles around”) the person with whom I hope to share the Gospel. Rather, it is my true prayer and sincere desire to come to love—with the love of Christ—the person with whom I am talking. I want to love him or her enough to really listen to them, to get to know them and then through my witness to share God’s Word in a way that truly touches their lives “where they are.” God is changing lives and changing the world through such Christian witness!

Jesus said, “As the Father has sent Me, so I send you” (John 20:21). He calls each of us in this great church body to be involved in sharing the precious, life-giving message of the Gospel—every grandpa and grandma, boy and girl, mom and dad. Jesus calls us—you and me—to be the “salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Matt. 5:13–14). He wants us to flavor our conversations with the message of the Gospel, bringing the light of Christ into every relationship we have.


God puts us in places and in relationships with those all around us who are “unreached and unchurched.” With whom might God be calling you to share the Gospel? Your neighbor, co-worker, or classmate? The person sitting next to you on the airplane? An uncle or cousin? Your parents?

The apostle Paul once encouraged a young pastor named Timothy with words that still encourage us today: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord” (2 Tim. 1:7–8a).

By God’s grace, my confession of timid evangelism has now become a strong confession of faith-sharing. My prayer is that God would stir up a mighty outreach movement in the LCMS so that 2.5 million of us hear Jesus personally calling us to frequently, individually, and intentionally share our faith throughout our daily lives as God gives us opportunity! God bless us to that end.


Scott Snow

Thursday, January 10, 2008

February Preschool News

February started off with a visit from our little fury friend Puxatony Phil; who saw his shadow and now we will see six more weeks of winter! We will be having more visitors this month as well. February is childrens Dental Health month so Dr. Logan, our friendly neighborhood dentist, will come share with the children some good brushing habits and teach them that good eating habits go hand in hand with good brushing habits! Dr. Logan shares songs and stories, along with showing them items they will see at a dental office. Dr. Logan teaches them how important their teeth are for smiling, biting, chewing and talking! We really appreciate Dr. Logan's visit each year! We continue learning about God's Word and how much he loves us all through the stories of Jesus calms the storms, Jesus feeds the 5000, Jesus visits Martha and Mary, and Jesus blesses the children; as told by Pastor and Vicar Jonathan. Our Spanish introduction for the Pre-K students, which last until Cinco de Mayo in May, is underway. We thank Mrs. Lauren Gonzales for helping us this year - Mucho Gracias!! Of course, February brings Valentine's Day, we will be having our celebrations on the 13th and 14th. We have no school on the 18th, it is an in-service day. Our service project for the month is St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Trike-A-Thon. A trike-a-thon rises vital research dollars for the battle against childhood catastrophic diseases, and at the same time provides a program in which preschool children are introduced to the concepts of tricycle and riding toy safety. The children learn about safety through a series of lessons that are a big hit, like to always wear you helmet! We would love to have you come visit and see the students participate in the trike-a-thon, which is scheduled for February 20th and 21st, starting around 10am both days. Help us help other children!
Our Chapel dates this month are the 27th and 28th, times are as follows; 11:00am, 11:30am, and 2:30pm for Pre-K and 10:30am, 11:00am, and 1:30pm for the 3 year olds. Please join us if you can! And what would the month of Fenruary be without celebrating the Hat-in-the-Cat's birthday! A special feline will be joining us for some green eggs and ham, on the 29th. Look for pictures on the preschool blog. If you would, while doing your grocery shopping please remember that we are still collecting Shop-n-Save receipts, which provides great programs to the preschool children through the S.E.E.D Program. Campbell's containers are out and located by the school rooms and in the greeting area. God bless you all for your constant support and love of the preschool and these programs. We can't thank the congregation enough for all you do in the love of children and Christ.
If you have any questions about the preschool or any special talents you would like to share with our preschool students, please contact Debbie Levato at 724-847-7291, we are always looking for special and different experiences for the children.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

He Loves to Be with the Ones He Loves by Max Lucado

Holiday travel. It isn’t easy. Then why do we do it? Why cram the trunks and endure the airports? You know the answer. We love to be with the ones we love.
The four-year-old running up the sidewalk into the arms of Grandpa.
The cup of coffee with Mom before the rest of the house awakes.
That moment when, for a moment, everyone is quiet as we hold hands around the table and thank God for family and friends and pumpkin pie.
We love to be with the ones we love.
May I remind you? So does God. He loves to be with the ones he loves. How else do you explain what he did? Between him and us there was a distance—a great span. And he couldn’t bear it. He couldn’t stand it. So he did something about it.
Before coming to the earth, “Christ himself was like God in every-thing.… But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born to be a man and became like a servant” (Phil. 2:6–7 NCV).
Why? Why did Jesus travel so far?
I was asking myself that question when I spotted the squirrels outside my window. A family of black-tailed squirrels has made its home amid the roots of the tree north of my office. We’ve been neighbors for three years now. They watch me peck the keyboard. I watch them store their nuts and climb the trunk. We’re mutually amused. I could watch them all day. Sometimes I do.
But I’ve never considered becoming one of them. The squirrel world holds no appeal to me. Who wants to sleep next to a hairy rodent with beady eyes? (No comments from you wives who feel you already do.) Give up the Rocky Mountains, bass fishing, weddings, and laughter for a hole in the ground and a diet of dirty nuts? Count me out.
But count Jesus in. What a world he left. Our classiest mansion would be a tree trunk to him. Earth’s finest cuisine would be walnuts on heaven’s table. And the idea of becoming a squirrel with claws and tiny teeth and a furry tail? It’s nothing compared to God becoming a one-celled embryo and entering the womb of Mary.
But he did. The God of the universe kicked against the wall of a womb, was born into the poverty of a peasant, and spent his first night in the feed trough of a cow. “The Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14 NRSV). The God of the universe left the glory of heaven and moved into the neighborhood. Our neighborhood! Who could have imagined he would do such a thing.
Why? He loves to be with the ones he loves.
From Next Door Savior Available in Hardback or Paperback Copyright (W Publishing Group, 2003) Max Lucado

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Lies that hinder us from witnessing

If you have a desire to share your faith but don't, you might be buying into a lie. The enemy uses lies to keep us from sharing the Gospel with others. It is important that we seek out God's truth - from His word - to be set free from lies and to share the Gospel without restraint. Here are three commonly believed lies and, more importantly, the truth that comes from God:
Lie #1: I am not worthy to share the Gospel message.
The truth: You have been chosen to proclaim the wonderful acts of God: "You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light" (1 Peter 2:9). If God chose you, you are certainly good enough to share the Gospel! Remember: "I can do everything through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13).

Lie #2: I should be ashamed to share the Gospel with my friend or family member because they know my past failures - they know I'm not perfect.
The truth: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come" (2 Corinthians 5:17). Through Christ's forgiveness, you are a new person. You once lived in darkness but Christ brought you into His glorious light. This is the greatest testimony of all! If you can be a new person, they certainly can too! Remember: It's not about you or your shortcomings: It is about God's goodness. Take the spotlight away from you and point it to Christ. Because of Christ, we no longer need to live in shame and neither do they! "God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline" (2 Timothy 1:7)..

Lie # 3. I'm not knowledgeable enough to share. I won't have all the answers.
You don't need a degree to be a witness of Christ. He has done amazing things in your life. All you need to do is go and tell your story of what He has done for you. He is so good! And, just by having a couple verses highlighted and ready, you will have the whole story ready to tell! The Gospel:
"We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life" (Romans 6:4).

When they say, "Wow, I want what you have. How do I get that?"

Romans 10:9 -10: "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."

Do not believe these lies that you are unworthy or unable to share the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. God has given us the power and has given us His Spirit that is with us always, making all things possible:

"With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26).

From: Lutheran Hour Ministries "Equipping Newsletter"

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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

From the Pastor...January 2008

Luke 2:19 "But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart."

In the 14th century Thomas Tusser wrote the following little rhyme:

"At Christmas play and make good cheer,
For Christmas comes but once a year."

Indeed it does. In fact, many of us would say, THANK GOD it does! But it is kind of wonderful. Then, like Cinderella, we know that when the clock strikes 12, it's back to the real world in which we live.

The post Christmas slump is not imaginary. Since Halloween, our whole lives have been oriented around Christmas. And once it's over, it's not always easy to put our lives back together. Scotch tape and ribbon won't do the trick. And so we go through a kind of withdrawal. There may be loneliness as family and friends depart for home. We discover that the problems we faced before Christmas are still there. Bills begin arriving in the mail. A kind of weariness sets in in the wake of high celebration.

But God in sending his Son did not intend to create a festival designed to propel us into the dumpers. God is not some cosmic Santa Claus who empties his bag of goodies and then departs for the North Pole. God in the person of his Son comes to stay. He comes to changes lives for the better.

Many preachers will tell their congregations to "keep the Christmas spirit" which amounts to moralizing--somehow by an act of will we will keep the spirit of charity and good will alive. But on our own we are quite incapable of doing so. How are we to spread good cheer when we our ourselves down in the dumps?

The answer is in the God who empowers us for living. The Christmas Gospel displays three personalities helpful to us in this matter.

The first personality is Mary, Mother of our Lord. At the departure of the shepherds, she is pictured contemplating all that has happened to her. We move quickly to Simeon, who seeing the Christ Child, embraces him and holds him close and declares him to be God's salvation; and Anna, the prophetess, who seeing the Child engages in the joyful task of telling others about his arrival.

The first antidote to the post Christmas slump is to, like Mary, treasure up what we have experienced and ponder these things in our heart. On Christmas eve, some tremendous things happened. The Good News of a Savior's birth was proclaimed. We learned of God's great love for us, the fact that we have a Savior who understands our deepest yearnings and feels our pain, who is stands ready and willing to hear our prayers, who comes to us through Word and Sacrament. Life will not be easy, any more than it was easy for the Holy Family who had to flee to Egypt to escape Herod's wrath. But God will be with us and deliver us. There are times when our hearts will be pierced through with grief. But even then we are not alone, for God is truly with us: "Emmanuel."

The second antidote to the post Christmas slumpers is to, like Simeon, to go into the temple courts continuously, in order to recieve Christ. Simeon was in the habit of hanging around the house of God. We need to be found in God's house and recieve communioni regularly. And, like Simeon, we need to embrace and hold fast the Christ. Simeon took the holy Child in his arms held him close. We have the opportunity to do the same.

And finally, we see Anna the Prophetess, 84 years old. Having seen baby Jesus, she "gave thanks to God and spoke about him to all who were in Jersualem." Out of concern for others, she began to spread the good news. We avoid the slumpers and keep the spirit as we engage and remain active in the mission of the Church, within the context of the fellowship of believers.

Bill Rittenhouse in the Baptist record writes of an expeience that he had while driving in Kansas. He passed a station wagon with luggage on top of it. One of the pieces of luggage fell off. He stopped and opened it and the only clue to the owner's identity was a box with a rubber band around it that had a $20 gold piece between two layers of cotton. On one side of the gold piece were the words: "Twenty years of loyal and faithful service." On the other side it read: "Persented to Otis Simpson by Northwestern State Portland Cement Company." So Rittinghouse wrote 75 cities in the Northwest to find this person. And finally he got a letter back from Mr. Simpson.. The man told him to dispose of the suitcase and all the contents except the gold piece--for, he said, "this is my most precious possession."

And so Rittinghouse answered his letter and enclosed the gold piece, but he took the opportunity to tell him of his most precioius possession. He told him of how precious his family was to him, and how precious his life--he had survived prison camp in World War II. "But" he said,"whereas these things are extremely precious to me, my most precious possession is Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior." He dropped the letter in the mail.

About a year later at Christmas back came the little white box with the same $20 gold piece in it, with a letter attatched. It read: "Last week my wife and I were baptized in a little church in Colorado. We want you to carry the gold piece with you at all times now, for we are old people, 74 and 72 respectively. But YOU were the first one to tell us about Jesus Christ, and now he is our most precious possession."

Mary, Simeon, Anna, three personalities associated with the Christmas story. Three personalities placed in the narrative by God to help us avoid the post Christmas slumpers, that the joy of Christmas remain alive in us throughout the year.