|As summer vacations and trips come to a close and things get under way for a new school year, groups and organizations that took a summer recess here at Shepherd of the Hills begin anew. Choir, quilting and the Guild all pick up again in September. To help keep our focus as we begin a new season this fall and as Christians living a quickly changing world, a world and society here in America that is rapidly distancing itself from it�s Judeo Christian heritage and from God Himself, it good to hear encouragement from God�s word. The words I set before you are the words of Mordecai to his young cousin, Esther, who had become Queen of Persia (modern day Iran). It was not a good time for the Jews living in captivity for they were marked for annihilation through the evil plotting of a government official by the name of Haman. �Do not think to yourself that in the king�s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father�s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?� �For such a time as this.� God has placed you and me in a unique time in history including the history of this nation. It was not an easy time for God�s people in Persia. They were marked for persecution and extinction by genocide. But in faith Esther pleaded for her people even if meant banishment and death from the King of Persian. You and I are called to the �kingdom of God� for such a time as this as our nation�s morals are quickly going down the drain. Same sex marriage and abortion are just the tip of the ice berg of the fallen world around us. It should come as no surprise that when a major department chain like Target feels threatened by customers complaining about the sexual identity of male and female merchandise, it takes down the now politically incorrect �boy� and �girl� labels. God made us male and female. Our fallen nature rebels against God�s good plan and shakes its fist in God�s face. �I�ll do and be what I want!� For such a time as this God has called us to be the Light of Christ in this dark world.
As I was ordering some children�s booklets from Lutheran Hour Ministries I noticed that LHM offers demographic studies for churches without any charge. I filled out the on-line form for our 72512 zip code and they okayed it and sent us the results. At the last church council meeting I shared some of the results and the 10 point summary of our Ministry Area Profile. Some of the profile was not that encouraging for our area. The population in our area is projected to decrease by 3% or 97 persons by the year 2020, now less than five years away. This is a real challenge for Horseshoe Bend and our congregation. But there are positives as we look at the concerns that are unusually high compared to the national average that are listed for our area. As we look at these concerns, we know that God in His Word has given us the resources and insights to help meet many of these concerns. Those concerns that are high for our area are 1. Finding a Good Church Home 2. Better Quality Healthcare, 3. Finding Spiritual teaching including Bible Studies and Prayer Groups, 4. Health Insurance, 5. Alcohol/Drug Abuse, and 6. Divorce. Some of the above concerns we are already meeting like offering Bible studies and the Men�s Prayer Breakfast. But we need to involve more, both members and non-members. Other concerns we need to look at along with the list of assets we gathered earlier this year and see if and how we can help. �For such a time as this we have come to the KINGDOM.� As the Holy Spirit has called us into the Kingdom of God, may He also give us His enlightenment to live under and for Jesus and His Kingdom in this place and this time.
682 God of the Prophets, Bless the Prophets' Sons
Text and Music: Public domain. Created by Lutheran Service Builder © 2006 Concordia Publishing House.
1 God of the prophets, bless the prophets� sons;
Elijah�s mantle o�er Elisha cast.
Each age its solemn task may claim but once;
Make each one nobler, stronger than the last.